Label : Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions

Review by Si Smith

A Forest of Stars belong to the current trend in UK black metal, that looks to England’s aristocratic past for much of its inspiration. Styling themesleves as a Victorian “Gentleman’s club”, AFOS progress here through a number of long, meandering tracks of progressive black metal. A tribute to their success is that their first two albums are now being re-released this month alongside bonus tracks and extras. First on the shelves in 2010, this album begins antithetically with a slow movement, “Sorrow’s Impetus” accompanied by drawn-out violin tones leading to crashing walls of black metal riffage. Progressive flourishes and wandering basslines mark out the experimental territory these tracks are about to cross. “Raven’s Eye View” was the nearest thing to a single to come off the album originally, as a promotional video was created for it. Initially faster and more dynamic than the first track, it quickly moves into more familiar post-black metal territory, again haunted by the violin parts and the almost-folky ambient parts that characterise certain areas that AFOS wander into on the way to their unique sound. Each song appears as a sonata in several movements, including changes of pace and atmosphere. “Summertide’s Approach” is again a slow but inexorable movement towards some acoustic ambiance, another track clocking in at around 14 minutes in length. “Thunder’s Cannonade”, the shortest track on the album at 8 minutes,begins with a melancholy instrumental introduction leading to a classic slow doom piece. The final two tracks on the album are long and sprawling, the first involving interchanges between male and female vocals, leading to more instrumental vistas, and the second closing the album with “Delay’s Progression”, a 16 minute epic complete with soothing nature sounds and more whispers from Lady Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts (who also plays the violin and flute parts). All in all for me a classic album of beauty and ugliness combined, black metal that tends towards slow doom rather than tremolo-picked fury. Their instrumental credentials are faultless, with all the elements working together to forge a whole that is far more than the sum of its parts. A must for any fan of doomy ambient black metal.

Rating – 93/100

 

Tracklist

  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

 

Line Up

  • Mister Curse – Vocals
  • Mr. T.S. Kettleburner – Vocals, Guitar & Bass
  • Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts – Vocals, Violin & Flute
  • The Gentleman – Keyboards, Pianoforte & Percussion
  • Mr John “The Resurrectionist” Bishop – Drums & Percussion

 

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