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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
Related Link: The Gentleman's Club of A Forest Of Stars
Hits: 3328
Language: english

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