A Forest Of Stars belong to that small circle of bands for whom every judgment made, or only thought about, risks being turned inside out like a glove at each subsequent listening. The English combo, in fact, since its appearance on the scene in 2008 with The Corpse Of Rebirth, has always exhibited the changing character of its sound, which in a very rough way can be defined as a kind of atmospheric black with a marked psychedelic and avant-garde character. One can well understand, therefore, how the proposal of ours turns out not always to be easy to assimilate, often oscillating within the same song between melodic moments with a background of double bass drum, electronic loops, passages of pure progressive, all accompanied by the rough recitative of Mr.Corpse, except when the voice takes on the more reassuring female tones of Katie, turning in this case towards a more classic gothic metal. Many ideas but confused? No, that is beyond doubt: the apparent schizophrenia of A Forest Of Stars follows its own logic, inscrutable as it may be; sure, not everything succeeds perfectly and even after repeated listens some moments of the record seem redundant or disconnected from the context in which they are placed. Still, A Shadowplay For Yesterdays stands out for a high overall value that makes such a work worthy of attention by listeners with more open-mindedness. It would suffice just to hear Gatherer Of The Pure, the classic track that alone justifies the release of an album, a perfectly focused picture of what the British band intends to communicate with its music: unhealthy yet enveloping atmospheres, great melodic openings and a recurring guitar turn that is memorable to say the least; all this, as icing on the cake, combined with a video of rare originality, consisting of a particular animation featuring figures from the Victorian era as protagonists and perfectly matched, in this case, to the musical content of the track. The rest of the work, lasting well over an hour, features several other notable episodes such as A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh, with Katie (ex-My Dying Bride) cloaking the song on violin and flute with an epic flavor on the heels of Ancient Rites’ recent past, The Blight Of God’s Acre with its fine melodic opening in the finale, Left Behind As Static, which is more linear and enhanced by a classically styled guitar solo, and the evocative first part of Corvus Corona. It remains to be established how much it affects, positively or otherwise, the assiduous presence of Mr.Corpse’s recitative: a peculiar voice, often shouted and in some ways ungainly, equally charming and probably functional to the cause in declaiming lyrics that are in any case never banal, but difficult to digest for those without a consistent extreme background. Nevertheless, I undoubtedly prefer this kind of vocal solution over the one involving Katie, which, however adequate, ends up shifting the sound toward more predictable solutions. It seems evident, in drawing the sums, that A Forest Of Stars are partially victims of their avant-garde attitude, due to which one constantly expects the stroke of genius that does not always manifest itself, however; however, as already mentioned, the judgment toward A Shadowplay For Yesterdays as a whole remains largely positive, even if repeated listening is necessary to get in tune with the eccentric British band.

2012 – Lupus Lounge