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- England, 1892 -
In an industrial town known to most of its inhabitants as Yonder Town, lived a man who was a puppeteer by profession. He was performing every evening, always in the same venue, stooping over his grimy puppets, drowned out by noise and shrouded in acrid smoke coming from a nearby factory. Always wearing the same checked vest and worn-out hat, he became a part of that God forgotten place: a narrow paved street with crooked tenements crowding around like frozen guardians of hopeless lives.
Labourers of ghostly stature were passing by, exhausted and apathetic, going back home only to prepare for another day of hard slog. Their bodies seemed to be separated from the mind, controlled by invisible strings, saving them from falling into puddles of mud and excrement. They didn't even notice that every performance of the puppeteer was different from the other, that he always had a different story to weave. I halted there once, unseen, hidden. I listened to the puppeteer, I watched his ephemeral spectacle:
"Once upon a time there was a lady of no repute, One Miss Crow, who, by force of a certain stranger, had engaged in violent night-time actions, against her very will.
Resulting from this invasion came, an aberration of desperation, a horror in all but name, A stoop-backed boy, short of stature, violent by nature; to be expelled from the womb in late November..."
That's how I imagine the beginning of this story. For it's not an ordinary album we're talking about here. Being released by Prophecy Productions (Alcest, Falkenbach), A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is a musical experience, abundant in soundscapes of an otherworldly nature. That's what happens when the band puts heart and soul into the music. And when it's a Victorian bunch of geniuses. If avant-garde metal with noticeable black, psychedelic and folk element is to your liking, I strongly encourage you to read through the following paragraphs... or just get the album and ignore the rest.
I encountered some negative opinions concerning the sound of the album and I must admit that compared to oppressive sound of Opportunistic Thieves of Spring it may seem a bit flat. It appears that the difference between these two records has not been taken into account though. A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is much less monolithic and thereby more space for psychedelic folk elements has been gained. Songs are multi-layered and full of influences from genres outside the metal one. That's why I find this bright production perfectly suitable for the music. Moreover, the sound is natural and organic which is a big advantage in my book.
A Forest of Stars is a band - or should I say a gentlemen's club - with a vision. Bands of this kind are very rare. Not only a band with a vision creates its own style, weave a concept and infuse it with life. It also makes the whole process irrelevant to the listener, makes him think about the music and concept as one consistent piece of art, completely apart and unique... whew, okay, enough of this loftiness. What we've got here is an avant-garde metal music, infused with psychedelic ambiance of Victorian occultism. All this created with the use of violin, retro-sounding piano, ominous clean vocals, accordion, flute, two different pigs, brooding samples and several electronic devices of unknown nature. Oppressive black metal element, known from Opportunistic Thieves of Spring, receded into the background but don't worry, it still has an important role to play. Most of all, however, the way this album flows, how unthinkable it is to listen just to one of the tracks instead of submerging into the whole thing and savour it in its entirety... that's what I think is the most amazing about the Club's youngest creation.
A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is strongly recommended to all those who love adventurous music. What does it mean? I hasten to explain that the word "adventurous" incorporates - in this very case - dark and reflection-provoking concept, enveloped in an ominous Victorian ambiance and executed with the use of music and emotional harsh vocals by Mister Curse. The music itself is composed in a multi-layered fashion, with impetuous and harsh character, usually attributed to black metal. And, from my point of view, it's just brilliant.
"... A fast track to sorrow in a world bred slow. From foetid seed, a poison tree with a venomous bark did grow.
He was to work all the hours his sorry god sent, a resident of fantasy, living a life of lament. He was to have no living lovers, no-one on who to depend. Yet his friends were to call him Carrion, the friends inside his head... "
-- Originally written for Metal Music Archives [www.metalmusicarchives.com/] --