The English A Forest Of Stars have always belonged to that category of bands of sure interest, capable of strokes of genius within albums often discontinuous, although played by musicians rich in inventiveness and undoubted technical skills. The wacky black, deeply linked to the Albionic prog and folk tradition, and with references to Victorian imagery, of good workmanship but not always able to finalize, arrives today to its final form, with a magnificent album in which, without renouncing to its eclectic sound, the band from Leeds manages to focus and condense in one shot all the insights of a career. The secret, not even too hidden, lies in the melodic afflatus of an album that, however long, always manages to keep the listener captivated, thanks to a constant balance between the black rhythms and the progressive folk aura. The extreme outbursts are themselves wrapped in dramatic atmospheres to which contributes the convincing vocal contribution of Mister Curse, more incisive and versatile than ever, with the help of the voice of Katheryne, good also in connoting the songs with violin and flute, as needed. Even the work of The Gentlemen on keyboards reaches the heights of inspiration never reached before, raising with their companions to the highest levels a band whose career is still relatively short, although already with four albums under their belt, so that Beware The Sword You Cannot See turns out to be one of the best albums heard in this first part of 2015. The magnificent folk atmospheres of the opener Drawing Down The Rain introduce a work that, during its hour-long duration, offers memorable passages in succession, creating a real kaleidoscope of emotions evoked now by airy melodic openings, now by the intensity of the harshest moments, which are never lacking in a strong harmonic vein. The rides of the bass, the caresses of the violin, the theatrical interpretation of the vocalist, the wise and ancient touch of the keyboards, the guitars that accompany and emphasize each juncture rather than stand as protagonists and a drumming now furious, now measured and elegant, are the precious ingredients that make essential listening to a disc that sweeps away in one fell swoop plethora of vacuous experimenters. If A Forest Of Stars, with all their Victorian trappings, the pompous nicknames adopted and the almost spasmodic search for the original trait, have always seemed to many to be pretentious, perhaps until yesterday there could be more than one good reason; today there isn’t, Beware The Sword You Cannot See is the album that finally exalts the inspiration and creativity without them taking over the song form but, above all, it is pure enjoyment for those who simultaneously appreciate black as well as British progressive and folk. Those who already knew A Forest Of Stars, to try to imagine the beauty of the disc without having heard a single note yet, should remember the melodic splendor of a track like Gatherer Of The Pure and then extend it to every song contained in Beware The Sword You Cannot See. No dead moments, but a lot of intensity and quality for a work that, in pure prog spirit, does not miss a long suite placed at the end, in which Katheryne’s elegant voice and Mister Curse’s acting emphasis take the stage: divided into six parts, each of which has its own identity, Pawn On The Universal Chessboard reveals itself as the authentic compendium of the artistic talent of a formidable and, in its own way, unique band.
2015 – Lupus Lounge
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