A Forest Of Stars - A Shadowplay For Yesterday
Progressive Black Metal
10 songs (1:02:45)
Release year: 2012
A Forest Of Stars, Prophecy
Reviewed by Goat

England's second-most eccentric black metallers (after perennial winners The Meads Of Asphodel!) are back, and making more of a racket than ever, although being their third full-length it's understandable that A Shadowplay For Yesterday is a more refined and melodic version of A Forest Of Stars' sound, albeit one as full of personality as ever. It's interesting to see as well that the band have toned their song lengths down a little, so that the sixteen-minute monsters are a thing on the past; here, only one track is over ten minutes, the rest ranging from three to eight. In many ways it's a reflection of maturity, knowing that more can sometimes be done with less, that you don't have to drag songs out to impress, and that quality not quantity is the deciding factor. And quality is certainly on offer here! From the opening synth pulses of Directionless Resurrectionist onwards, A Forest Of Stars remind you of their talents immediately. Vocalist Mr Curse spits out a rage-flecked introduction, leading incongruously to the laid-back jazzy meander that opens Pray Tell Of The Church Fate, which soon launches into blackened guitar melodies, climbing in epic sorrow as his voice turns into a howl. As you'll note from the ensuing instrumental exploration, this album is more progressive-oriented than the weird psychedelia of before, although this is still very psychedelic in sound, Drudkhian melodies twisting and turning with violin to add a mournful My Dying Bride-esque pallor.

The following A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh is even better, starting with folky strums and building into a blackened prog behemoth, infectious riffage turning raw and ugly with the vocals as violin and piano duel in the background, a flute later taking the lead and adding a medieval touch with acoustic guitars, tribal percussion, and female vocals. It's the sort of track you listen to again immediately after you've heard it, despite being over ten minutes long - a masterful exploration of progressive themes enhanced by the black and folk metal influence that run through it like blood through flesh. A definite highlight and a track that will remain with you long after, in some way it's the centrepiece of the album, although there's still much goodness to come. The folky dirge of The Underside Of Eden is punctuated with Mr Curse's almost spoken vocals, spat out in an ugly way over the sombre beauty of the instrumentation, a folky flute motif and strange, almost rubbery percussion underpinning a female vocal-led wall of sound. Gatherer Of The Pure opens with pig squeals and accordion before building on the latter, changing to an oddly uplifting gorgeousness by the end. Tracks like The Blights Of God's Acre and Man's Laughter are almost like interlude pieces, lacking the narrative and structure of songs yet still keeping you gripped, while the melodic shimmer of Left Behind As Static is probably the most black metal piece present, free of harsh vocals but keeping you enthralled with its atmospheric touch in a way Drudkh hasn't managed in a long time. In some ways A Forest Of Stars are still too eccentric and, well, British to be of real interest to the gnarly black metal masses. A Shadowplay For Yesterday, however, is a showcase of a very talented band that makes beautiful music with a black metal edge, and one that should definitely be on your playlist.

Killing Songs :
Pray Tell Of The Church Fate, A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh, Gatherer Of The Pure, Left Behind As Static
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by A Forest Of Stars that we have reviewed:
A Forest Of Stars - Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
A Forest Of Stars - Beware the Sword You Cannot See reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
A Forest Of Stars - Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
A Forest Of Stars - The Corpse Of Rebirth reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
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