A Forest of Stars - A Shadowplay for Yesterdays (Prophecy Productions/Lupus Lounge)
By: David E. Gehlke
[8/10] We don’t hand out very many awards on Blistering, probably because various awards and faux internet trophies cheapens the only category that matters, i.e. Album of the Year. Yet if yours truly had to give an award for Most Improved Band, it would go to the United Kingdom’s A Forest of Stars, who after taking a nice little beating in 2010, have rebounded nicely with A Shadowplay for Yesterdays.
Never mind the band’s rather hokey stage names (ex. Mister Curses, Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts), A Forest of Stars have taken what amounts to vintage celestial black metal (think Cacophonous’ roster in the early 90’s) and paired it with an overarching conceptual theme that supposedly places the band in the year 1887. Granted, no one in these ever-discerning times will buy that a band thinks they existed 125 years, but hey, Immortal has their Blashyrkh; A Forest of Stars has their Victorian era and tea. It all works the same way.
An album that is far more realized, cohesive, coherent, fascinating (INSERT POSITIVE ADJECTIVE HERE), A Shadowplay for Yesterday revels in the downspirit found on “A Prophet For A Pound of Flesh,” where folk-inspired acoustic guitars collide with brisk Nordic riffs. Vocalist Mister Curse mostly stays out of the way, opting for a barked vocal approach that is more anguished than it comes across, especially on the excellent “The Underside of Eden,” where morose and biting violins join the party.
If one is able to get past A Forest of Stars’ blatant gimmick (trust us – there are far worse things to get one’s knickers in a knot about), then an album like A Shadowplay for Yesterdays should resonate with the grim and progressive black metal crowd. How about this – just use your friggin’ imagination for once, okay?
Editor's note: Vocalist Mr. Curse was incorrectly labeled as "Mr. Curses." We have since made the update.
A Forest of Stars official website