Tuesday 28 March 2023

Swan Valley Heights - Terminal Forest (Album Review)

Release Date: March 31st 2023. Record Label: Fuzzorama Records. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Terminal Forest: Tracklisting

Microbe Galaxy

The Hunger

Space Bash III

Terminal Forest

Looking For Bird Pet

Star Fever


Christian Schmidt - Bass

Andy Heir - Drums/Keyboards

David Kreisl - Guitar/Vocals


Terminal Forest is the new album from Heavy Psych/Doom/Stoner Riffsters Swan Valley Heights where the band take a Progressive approach that also sees the band to adapt to a "GLOOM & DOOM" style of music for the heavier parts of the album. However, Swan Valley Heights still operate in that LUSH SOUNDING Psych Rock Environment that will appeal to fans of ELDER, Weedpecker and King Buffalo though still allowing the band to add their own Creative spin.

The songs are structured in a way that sees the band play a multitude of different styles that flirt between Psych/Post-Rock bliss to the heavier and more aggressive DOOMED OUT STONER grooves that gives the band more weight in the volume department. Subtle use of Psych Rock and Ambient Trippy effects gives the band a more cautious approach which you can hear on the excellent first track Microbe Galaxy.

This track is an expansive eleven minute plus journey where Swan Valley Heights merge different levels of Psych Rock with a thoroughly modern WEEDIAN flavour. The atmosphere is melodic but vastly aggressive when the mood calls for it. Elements of HEAVY DISTORTED FUZZ appear on the later stages on the track which no doubt leave fans in a EUPHORIC STATE OF BLISS. The vocals are sublime. Clean and focused with plenty of emotional drive behind them. Though, the music is the main strength drawn here with first-rate instrumental work that manages to get the balance of QUIET and LOUD moments down to a fine art form.

Second song The Hunger has a slight classic Desert Rock feeling before expanding into a more Post-Rock/Psych Rock effect. Eerie Space Rock effects give a more adventurous style before that FUZZ heavy sound returns that allows Swan Valley Heights to play some epic Extended Grooves and Sonic based jams. The vocals are calm and effective with a more emotional style. The song does seem to have an Alt Rock feeling which is perhaps down to the superb lyrics. The song does become part of the "DOES IT DOOM" category when the heavier riffs appear.

Third song Space Bash III offers a classic Psych Stoner Rock track with the mood being more atmospheric and perhaps sounding more straight forward. Though, the band explored multiple different musical avenues despite the brief three minutes runtime of the track. Throw in some Truckfighters based classic FUZZ energy and it's one of the coolest tracks on the album.

Fourth song Terminal Forest is the gloomiest track on the album with Swan Valley Heights being more restrained. The song does have its fair share of HUGE sounding grooves but feels more alive when the cautious and Post-Rock based sounds are leading the charge. Another one of the lengthier tracks running past the ten minutes mark. The vocals have a wonderfully surreal "Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel" sound to them which makes this song even more daring compared to the other tracks on the original. Even the lyrics feel inspired by the classic songwriting duo but that could just be my own observations playing tricks on me. The music is where it counts when choosing the perfect moments to unleash the aggressive AMPLIFIER DISTORTED grooves to them. A winning combination of Doom/Stoner Metal sounds that are spliced with Cinematic based Psych Rock/Space Rock delivery.

Fifth song Looking For Bird Pet is one extended Instrumental piece broken down by individual jams and grooves that keeps that Post-Stoner sound with the trippy Fuzz environment becoming quite JAZZY in places.

The final song Star Fever expands the Spaced Out sound for a more Progressive and Soulful feel. The song does start off cautiously slow but it's the swirling Psychedelic Ambient parts that allows the song to become more Doom/Stoner based. The vocals are clear and concise with the album becoming more emotionally driven before the final moments appear. The slight appearance of the Classic Desert/Fuzz/Stoner Rock scene appears in the background which allows the album to be more organic as a result.

Terminal Forest is an album for the Stoner Rock/Metal ages, as it has a timeless quality and feel throughout the whole album. Packed full of vibrant SONIC and DOOMED OUT energy which is backed up by wonderfully bombastic production values. This is perhaps Swan Valley Heights finest album to date which will no doubt get them more notice within the Doom/Stoner Metal scene. 

Words by Steve Howe.

Thanks to Fuzzorama Records for the promo.

Terminal Forest is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Fuzzorama Records from March 31st 2023.


Official | Facebook | BandCamp | Instagram