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A Forest of Stars - A Shadowplay for Yesterdays - 90%

NomTheWise, October 16th, 2012

A Forest of Stars from the UK have been one of the most extraordinary phenomena in the extreme metal underground of the last five years. Their unique style of putting together extremely melodic parts on the one hand and disturbingly weird and dissonant parts on the other hand was consistently continued on the new album “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays”.

Still, A Forest of Stars are of course not repeating themselves here: That gets obvious when you take a look at the tracklist of the album. The ten to fifteen minute structures of the first two outputs have mostly been abandoned; “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” contains only one 10-minute epic and two 8 minute songs, the other songs are somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes. As the album has a total running time of over 60 minutes, we consequently find more songs than “The Corpse of Rebirth” and “Opportunistic Thieves of Spring” contained.

The album begins with a very disturbing intro called “Directionless Resurrectionist” that leads into “Prey Tell of the Church Fate” – a song that starts as disharmonious as the intro, but soon turns into a maelstrom of violin and shredding lead guitars. The above mentioned ten-minute masterpiece “Prophet for a Pound of Flesh” is one of the absolute highlights of the whole album. This song contains everything I love about this band: Great melodies, blastbeats, Mister Curse’s spine-chilling vocals and so much variation that listening to the song is like going on a journey. This is just awesome.

Where “The Blight of God’s Acre” comes up with some very aggressive (yet melodic) riffs, “The Underside of Eden” displays a much more dreamlike atmosphere and thus adds to the immense variety of “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays”. And then comes “Gatherer of the Pure”…Well, it is quite hard to put into words how good this song actually is. I have to admit, that I do not always (but most of the time) like the vocals in AFOS, but what Mister Curse delivers here is so authentic and emotional. His painful vocals perfectly go together with the beautiful violin and guitar melodies. To me, this is the best piece of art A Forest of Stars have done so far – and they have done a lot of outstanding stuff. By the way, there is also a very good video for this song. You can check it out at the official Prophecy Productions YouTube channel.

The last three songs of the album are outstanding too, although they cannot match the intensity of track seven. Nevertheless, “Left Behind as Static” and the two “Corvus Corona” parts again contain tons of very good ideas and melodies, ending this masterpiece in a proper way. The front cover displays the same kind of surreal, dream-like atmosphere the music develops.

Although not all songs are on the same qualitative level, “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” has become so brilliant that it is hard to find the proper words to describe my feelings when I listen to it. In order to get the whole mood and diversity I recommend to listen to this as a whole rather than to pick out particular songs. If you are interested in complex song structures and a symbiosis of different styles, or if you are bored by bands that release the same album every year, please check this out. You won’t regret it.

Originally written for www.northwind-promotion.org