A Forest Of Stars – A Shadowplay For Yesterdays

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Review by Jason Guest

Though the music industry may be suffering, music itself certainly isn’t. Creativity seems to be flowing ever onward and countless bands are pushing their own as well as music’s boundaries and crafting music and concepts that are as diverse as they are  varied. Take Leeds’ A Forest of Stars, the members of this Gentleman’s Club reside not somewhere but sometime in the latter part of the 19th century, an era of social schizophrenia where, behind the veneer of social convention, etiquette, pious reverence, and order lay a world of corruption, isolation, alienation, poverty, depravation, madness and more. Now comprised of seven members – the band have seen two more additions since their 2010 album, Opportunistic Thieves of Spring – the band’s ability to paint detailed and intricate sonic pictures has developed tenfold.

Telling the tale of a man born of the rape of a prostitute into a world of suffering sorrow, he is a man at odds with himself, torn between virtue and the path of blasphemous (self-) destruction, the band’s third album, A Shadowplay for Yesterdays, sees A Forest of Stars experiment further with instrumentation, complex arrangements and structures and divergent dynamics. Dark, sinister, almost otherworldly, the atmospheric and disconcerting passages and the demented and unholy grandeur of black metal of the album has all the makings of the shadowy underworld of a Victorian novel. Monotheism and damnation, grave robbing and necrophilia, narcotics, demons and occult rituals, and fear and trepidation run like rivers of blood through the darkened streets of the elaborately structured tracks. Keyboards spill skewed elation, tremolo-picked melodies pour from the guitars, the melancholic violin laments something possessed only in a dream, and the flute whistles its pagan/folk air across every facet of the consummate song-craft. With a solid rhythm section that moulds itself to the needs of the tracks, they can be melodic and grooving with both the full-on vehemence and the silent stare of aggression. With remarkable musicianship, an extraordinary approach to song-writing, and a chilling tale, A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is decadent, mesmerising, and sumptuously alluring. You could listen to the tracks individually if you wanted to – and they all stand up – but that’d defeat the purpose of the album. Think of it as a book at bedtime, but don’t expect a restless sleep…

9 out of 10

  • You can check out A Forest of Stars incredible website here or visit them on Facebook here
  • And you can read an interview with The Gentleman and Mr Curse here

Track listing:

  1. Directionless Resurrectionist
  2. Prey Tell Of The Church Fate
  3. A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh
  4. The Blight Of God’s Acre
  5. Man’s Laughter
  6. The Underside Of Eden
  7. Gatherer Of The Pure
  8. Left Behind As Static
  9. Corvus Corona (Part 1)
  10. Corvus Corona (Part 2)