A Forest of Stars “Opportunistic Thieves of Spring” (2010)

Those ears of yours just picked up a sneaky peal of thunder. Are you ready for the lightning to strike? Are you?

Break point. These are the main words that come into mind after constant and repeated listening sessions to the British quintet’s second album. We ‘d rather be careful enough to avoid the use of the word “record”; here; it is more of a collection of sounds and images, poems and scripts, thoughts and feelings, summing up anything one could expect from an artist. Perhaps that is their key to unlocking the ears of some very dedicated followers they have earned since 2008, when their debut was released. With their new effort however, new acquaintances are to be joining this “gentlemen’s club”, as they refer to themselves.

Considering the black metal basis of the group, the quality here is outstanding. One of the major assets here is the orchestration. It all comes down to the instruments selected. Violin, flute, keyboards, pianoforte or percussion are not the standard listings in the genre’s textbook. Knowing when to step back and forth, all of the above create an amazing wall of sound together with traditional playing. Blasts and screams appear often, but keep a remote view to the industry’s clichés. The pieces are lengthy, the shortest being over 8 minutes, but do not lose their breathing ability at all. An overall ambience, mixed with psychedelic elements, also marks its seal on this dark drama anthology. Lyrical themes and lines deserve a special mention. Their completely fantastic prism offers various interpretations, and promises to keep the reader puzzled as well as charmed.

The opener Sorrow’s Impetus is a (not so) quick fix of melancholy, as Ulver would say. Fast-paced riffing is intercepted between slower ambient passages, where the violin takes the lead. Percussion, an unstoppable force throughout all the tracks, helps create a woodsy atmosphere. Moving on to chapter II, a piper’s haunting melody – introduced by the flute – levitates the whole song up to a raven’s flying. From up there, cynical lyrics are spat towards every possible direction, drawing a picturesque social comment. Next is Summertide’s Approach, a gigantic hymn. The violin incarnates an utterly gentle tango part, influenced by the Victorian era. Piercing guitar outbursts offer electric chills behind raging vocals, until all instruments swarm away towards the exit in an instant mind-taking slow part.

Thunder’s cannonade resembles a weather forecast: calm halfway through, and then a storm gets released, ending in heavy pouring rain. In Chapter V, mesmerizing female vocals will hold attention before a majestic riff dissolves everything. The closing chapter is another showcase of brilliant vision: robotic vocals (somewhat reminiscent of Cynic’s vocoder), placed carefully inside a marvelous slow piece of lazy guitars, mix perfectly with theatrical singing. “Delaying the inevitable as seasons become as one. All is as nothing, all has nothing to become.” Pure art.

They may have chosen to steal spring, yet they warn of being able to do so with (our) summer as well. The album is created to mature with time regardless of seasons, and so will those who chose to mature with it. The infinity of the musicianship and their spirit is an absolute guarantee. Don’t believe me? Try measuring a forest of stars.



Release:  June 2010
Label:  Transcendental Creations
Avantgenre:  Experimental Psychedelic Black Metal
Duration:  72 Minutes
Origin:  England, The Victorian Era
Review online since:  28.07.2010 / 21:46:09


01 – Sorrow’s Impetus
02 – Raven’s Eye View
03 – Summertide’s Approach
04 – Thunder’s Cannonade
05 – Starfire’s Memory
06 – Delay’s Progression

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