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A Forest of Stars | ‘A Shadowplay for Yesterdays’

‘Steam-powered Victorian Psychedelic Black Metal’ appears to be such a niche and cliché market these days, but this 7-member group from Yorkshire are very much concise and determined in their presentation.

Claiming to have formed in 1891 (2007 in actual fact, but surely we can forgive 116 years?), they truly intertwine themselves to their characters.

Take into consideration the members monikers: Mister Curse; Kathereyne, Queen of the Ghosts; The Gentleman; Sir Gastrix Grimshaw; Henry Hyde Bronsdon; Mr John “The Resurrectionist” Bishop and finally Titus Lungbutter (this being is my favourite).

The music itself is difficult to make a definitive commentary on, but the most obvious influences here are to be found in the early works of bands such as Opeth, Agalloch and the like.

Straightforward riffs and song structures are present, but quite often have the spotlight taken off them for the sake of dark ambience and chaotic tangibility. This is very much an act that relies on feeling. Violins, flutes and synths weave their way through the fabric of sound to help complete the task.

‘Pray Tell of The Church Fate’ has more than a little Opeth-influence throughout; it outrightly pervertedly genuflects to the Swedish Prog Metallers. It’s no bad thing and indeed the track itself is a very enjoyable listen, but it’s so very obvious and lacks its own identity as a result.

‘Man’s Laughter’ is dinstinct, instrumental Hawkwind worship – and is just one of many influences that can be heard throughout the album. ‘The Underside of Eden’ has a real Doom quality to it halway through until closing.

‘Left Behind As Static’ is arguably the best track on the album overall, and a real pleasure to sit through as its assortment is breathtaking. ‘Gatherer of The Pure’ is a close contender for that award and is likely the track I’d recommend anyone to check out if they wanted a lucid example of what the band were capable of producing (and thus provided below).

Mister Curses’ performance overall on this release is impressively varied and possesses conviction with each bellow. He shares voice duty with Katheryne, who is also both proficient and accomplished when it comes time to exert her influence.

I am truly torn on how to rate this.

On one hand, I relish the jovial nature of both the gimmick and music, but on the other, I can’t help but feel that those things may be masking the cracks of what is a generally mediocre music.

This may certainly be a band that will divide many. Some may believe it to be esoteric for its own sake and be put off by the pretension, whereas others may just enjoy the music and image regardless.

Despite there being some moments that seem to me to be nothing more than cut-and-paste jobs of their various influences, there is a lot of genuinely good stuff in here that deserves to be heard.

When compared to other abstract BM acts, and especially of labelmates such as Negura Bunget, this really doesn’t make the cut for essential listening.

However, it’s certainly intriguing and you may find yourself becoming a cult listener, so give it a chance and see what you think.

3 / 5 – Ricardo Angelone ::: 10/08/12

  1. Sure Ebony Lake did all this years ago, really.

  2. andy/bottle of tonic Says:

    Good review fairly accurately summing up how i feel about this album too. I enjoyed them live and took a punt on ‘Shadowplay…’ and wasn’t really into it first couple of listens but it has grown on me. It’s nothing amazing but there are plenty of nice moments spread throughout its hour or so length – usually violin or synth led. Its a very mixed bag of styles but manages in my opinion to avoid sounding like a complete shambles without ever really being truly compelling. Its hard to really recommend it but anyone picking it up won’t be too disappointed either – strange one really.

  3. I’ve felt much the same about the two previous releases. Enjoy listening to them without ever being able to pinpoint anything specific or particularly memorable about them. Think they somehow just manage to create something that works as a whole, and I include the image in that. Pretentious and all as it is, I like it that they’ve gone the whole hog on it. Much like Watain, I can’t relate to what they’re saying (content-wise) but appreciate it for the ‘wholeness’ of it.

  4. ResidentOfBok Says:

    ”it manages in my opinion to avoid sounding like a complete shambles without ever really being truly compelling.”

    That’s exactly it in a nutshell. The songs just aren’t strong enough to carry it.

  5. Eoin McLove Says:

    I listened to one of their songs before and it sounded decent alright. The gimmick works to a point but at the same time, having read one interview by them, I have no interest in reading any more. Fair play to them for going full steam with it, but I feel a bit meh about the whole enterprise.

  6. I can get what everyone is saying but I think it’s interesting none the less. It doesn’t quite push the boat out enough. I’m not sure if a whole album of this would get much repeat listens. That said I’ll give them a few more listens.

  7. Eoin McLove Says:

    That song is quite interesting actually, more so for the non-metal elements.

  8. […] A little over two years ago, I reviewed A Forest Of Star’s last release – ‘A Shadow Play For Yesterdays‘. […]

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