Carpathian Forest is always on the list of Norway’s biggest black metal bands which include Immortal, Darkthrone, Burzum, Gorgoroth, Taake, Mayhem, Satyricon, and 1349. Although not being one of my VERY favorites, I have fully recognized and accepted Carpathian Forest’s impacts and influence on the black metal genre. Carpathian Forest continues to have one of the more unique sounds in the traditional black metal fields (which I will describe later on in the review). I’m a big fan of Carpathian Forest’s entire discography, but none of their albums speak out to me as much as Strange Old Brew. From my perception, the band’s creative juices were flowing much stronger during the writing process of this album than their others.
Just so that this doesn’t come off as a TOTAL surprise when you first put this record on the player, this is one of the most unique sounding traditional black metal albums I’ve ever heard. The most unique thing about the sound is that there is a huge heavy dark rock influence that is very obvious. The songs where this is most obvious are Mask of the Slave, The Suicide Song, and He’s Turning Blue. You know what? This is probably the album that sparked the curiosity in the minds of Darkthrone that eventually led to their major shift in musical style in their 2006 release, The Cult is Alive. The reason why I think this is because the current mix of punk rock and black metal that Darkthrone has been doing since 2006 sounds a lot like Strange Old Brew by Carpathian Forest….except with A LOT more rock and punk.
Although this isn’t a totally negative thing, the vocals are the most generic form of black metal vocals you can come up with; that high-pitched, croaky sound. There’s not much else I can say about the vocals other than that they fit the genre and the album’s sound just fine. The bassist seems to be a lot better than the guitarists at playing complex chord alterations and just speed in general. That’s something that I really love about this album; not only is the bassist awesome, but you can actually hear his guitar! He has several bass solos all throughout the album that continue to pleasantly catch me by surprise every time.
As far as individual songs go, all of them stick out to me in a positive manner; there aren’t any songs that cease to impress me…which is what Carpathian Forest does best. I would give this album 18/20. I would recommend this to all black metal fans that haven’t already heard it or are new to Carpathian Forest. I like to keep this review short and sweet because the rest of what I could say about this album would just be a description of pure, generic Norwegian black metal.