A Forest Of Stars - A Shadowplay For Yesterdays review
|Band:||A Forest Of Stars|
|Album:||A Shadowplay For Yesterdays|
|Release date:||July 2012|
01. Directionless Resurrectionist
02. Prey Tell Of The Church Fate
03. A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh
04. The Blight Of God's Acre
05. Man's Laughter
06. The Underside Of Eden
07. Gatherer Of The Pure
08. Left Behind As Static
09. Corvus Corona (Part 1)
10. Corvus Corona (Part 2)
11. Dead Love [bonus]
Let me tell you what I believe is the ultimate measure of a band's talent: how many genres they can blend together into a mass fusion of sound, while at the same time sticking to the core base of the primary genre from which they come. A Forest Of Stars have already proven themselves masters at such a technique with 2008's The Corpse Of Rebirth and 2010's lesser-acclaimed (but still impressive) Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring. And here they are in 2012, ready to split the black metal camp in half again with another stunningly outlandish album. The thing about the band that one should take note of is that they never do the same thing twice. True, they have managed to craft a distinct sound that can genuinely be called "theirs," yet (much like Enslaved) this sound is always being embellished upon. On A Shadowplay For Yesterdays, we see it evolving into a much more folklore-ish territory, with the Victorian themes we all love and know the band for being taken to a new height.
"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." So the album begins with the spoken ambient intro "Directionless Resurrectionist," and right away, A Forest Of Stars establish a feeling that A Shadowplay For Yesterdays is going to be (as its title suggests), something of a musical play telling a sorrowful story through its music and lyrics. Like any good story then, the album is an incredible blend of various elements, with numerous influences (progressive rock, classical music, folk music) all crammed into single tracks. Unlike Oppurtunistic Thieves Of Spring which was in my opinion a little less branched out in its composition, A Shadowplay For Yesterdays, much like The Corpse Of Rebirth is a bit more all across the board.
Where to even begin with examples, for there truly are so many! There's the dreamlike guitar section underscored by the band's usual violins at around 2:30 on "Prey Tell Of The Church's Fate." The "folky-sounding" acoustic guitar at around 6:08 on "A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh," which is later topped off by some beautiful female vocals, which are then taken even further by being blended into a quite interesting harmony with the male vocals. There's the eerie, dark middle section of "The Blight Of God's Acre," quite reminiscent of the darkly melancholic section of "Female" from The Corpse Of Rebirth. The folky, classical-sounding accordion at the beginning of "Gatherer Of the Pure"… the list goes on and on, and just like A Forest Of Stars' previous efforts, A Shadowplay For Yesterdays is once again the type of album where you'll be likely to notice something you didn't before each time you listen to it (a quality of albums that I love, personally). But fear not, my fans of "pure" black metal! There are moments for you as well (just not as many). If you're looking for more of a straight-edge black metal sound, you may be a bit disappointed, but there are moments in which the band does get back into it, particularly on "Prey Tell Of The Church's Fate" and "The Blight Of God's Acre." To help space out all this amazingly complex composition, A Forest Of Stars also pulled a new trick that we haven't really seem them doing before: sticking a few short ambient tracks ("Man's Laughter" and "Corvus Corona Pt. 1") in between the longer tracks, to great effect (this actually reminded me a lot of The Ruins Of Beverast as well, for Alex is notorious for this technique).
My fellow black metal fans, after A Corpse Of Rebirth and Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring, A Forest Of Stars have done it again, once more managing to somehow create an incredibly multi-layered album that is at no point whatsoever predictable or stale. Is this the black metal album of 2012? Quite possibly so. Considering what else has been released this year in the black metal camp, fantastic albums by the likes of Borknagar, Blut Aus Nord, and Enslaved, it'll certainly have its competition. But against all the black metal albums I've listened to this year, none have I enjoyed more than A Shadowplay For Yesterdays, for all of the reasons I mentioned above. It has easily won my vote for black metal album of the year. Give it a spin and it might just convert you as well
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