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A Forest Of Stars: Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring

A Forest Of Stars would appear to be a band who thoroughly believes in what they are all about. Take a quick look through the booklet that accompanies the band's second CD and you will find sepia tinged pages full of band portraits and script that firmly belongs in the late 1800's, as well as some beautiful illustrations. Then if you point your browser at their "Gentleman's Club", or should I say web-site, then you will find that the theme continues there as phonographs, paper weights and period newspapers guide you through the information kept within (actually even if this band's music is not for you, have a look at the site as it is one of the best presented band sites I have visited in quite some time). With such attention to detail and the marvellous way in which A Forest Of Stars present themselves, I am even willing to forgive the "stage" names they have come up with - John "The Resurrectionist" Bishop, Katherine Queen Of The Ghosts, Mister Curse, Mr TS Kettleburner and The Gentleman. Yes I know it is all a bit silly, but as long as the music is up to snuff, then a little theatre can actually be a good thing.

So after all that, what exactly are A Forest Of Stars all about? Well during the opening track of Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring, "Sorrow's Impetus", my first impression was reasonably straight forward black metal however as the song grows across its thirteen or so minutes, so do the atmospheres and the more unusual aspects to the deathly sound that is being conjured. Yes the drums rattle at breakneck speed and the growling, courtesy of Mister Curse is hearty in the extreme, although quite low in the mix and the guitars spit out an uncompromising mighty riff. However there are also layers of flute and violin that underpin the sound with an eerie drone, then add to that subtly layered keyboards and adventurously arranged vocals and it all results in a mix that is rather surprising and heady. This is black metal, but not as we are used to hearing it.

There really can't be many extreme metal albums of any ilk that can lay claim to having what sounds like an upright piano being backed by a raking fiddle, but "Summertide's Approach" has just that, before a threatening yowl and scream introduce an uncomfortably start stop riff that has you almost cowering in the corner. We are now well into the territory of progressive black metal and as the tribal beats punctuate a never ending guitar shriek, somehow the pounding piano adds an uneasy melody that just won't allow you to lose interest even for a split second. "Thunder's Cannonade", which is the shortest song clocking in at just over eight minutes, is positively melodic in comparison to its album mates. However the intricate violin that drones a repetitive motif over and over makes the effect joyously uncomfortable and considering that there are long stretches of this song that are just acoustic guitar and violin, the contrasts to be found a stark and startling.

Closing track "Delay's Progression" is by far the most restrained offering on show, with the keyboards really coming to the forefront and instead of backing up a cacophonous attack, they lead an altogether more considered and progressive track through electronic and at times whispered vocals, ambient interludes, and finally the album's slow, doomy burn out. The whole trip from the discs' beginning, to its end, is all a bit much to take in at first, but live with it, let it sink in and put any genre preconceptions to one side and you will find an album full of unexpected twists and turns, that beguile your with their beauty at the very same time as they pummel you with their brutality. Apparently their debut album The Corpse Of Rebirth is even less compromising!

Big, bold and very clever indeed.


Track Listing
1. Sorrow's Impetus
2. Raven's Eye View
3. Summertide's Approach
4. Thunder's Cannonade
5. Starfire's Memory
6. Delay's Progression

Added: June 17th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Gentleman's Club of A Forest Of Stars
Hits: 2090
Language: english

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A Forest Of Stars: Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring
Posted by Denis Brunelle, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-06-17 06:39:28
My Score:

I had the chance to review A forest of Stars' previous album, The Corpse of Rebirth, when it was first released. I remember it was quite a unique piece of music. This new output came out in May, and it is an awesome follow up from these Neo-Victorian British musicians.

Be aware though, this is not a classical album! This is not your typical run-of the mill black metal disc either. It would take more than a couple words to describe their musical direction. The first thing that came to mind while listening to Opportunistic Thieves of Springs is that this work was not only complex, but greatly varied, much to my pleasure. It takes more than one listen to catch up with all that was composed and recorded here. Not only does this album last over seventy minutes, with quite a few compositions easily clocking it at 12, 13 and 16 minutes plus, but you won't find any of those over-stretching for nothing moments. Those crafty musicians and songwriters have come up with a melodic, multi-dimensional, adventurous, progressive and epic opus, for our hearing pleasures. At times, this release reminds me a bit of vintage King Crimson, for its dark/ambient vs. intense moments. Other times, certain Pink Floyd edge is felt, without bearing any copycat attributes though. Once again, the listener will find himself wandering off in numerous long lasting musical breaks. Not only that, but he or she will also travel through all sorts of moods; from darkly intense to fast and furious, passing by calmer/ambient times, not to forget the lush and orchestral Neo-Victorian passages. The fact of the variety of instrumentalists included in this act also adds to the richness of this music. Having on board eight musicians handling instruments such as: guitars, violin, flutes, keyboards, percussions and vocals can only add to the richness of this hearing delicacy. Although Opportunistic Thieves counts only great music from beginning to end, I have a weak spot for the closing track, "Delay's Progression. This long lasting pleasure (16:29) has that Pink Floyd vibe, as well as acoustic guitar arpeggios/riffs, intensity, ambient keys and a cool progressive edge/ dark ambience.

A Forest of Stars is one of those bands that can only leave a great lasting sensation to those who truly appreciate music for what it is: a piece of subtle art.






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