A Forest of Stars – Beware the Sword You Cannot See (Lupus Lounge)

Tuesday, 10th February 2015
Rating: 8/10

Always found A Forest of Stars to be just a step away from reaching the next level. By most accounts, they’re an avant-garde favorite; a band without much of a filter, nor even boundaries to what they’re attempting. Some may find their time-traveling concepts (they go back in time, and present themselves as a band from the 1800s) to be a bit much, but frankly, who wouldn’t like an outfit with such an imagination? In relation to 2012’s excellent A Shadowplay for Yesterday, Beware the Sword You Cannot See places the same amount of thought, care, and exuberance into one elaborate package of not-so-normal extreme metal.

The band’s distinctive sound – herded and formulated by black metal, and touched up with elements of folk and symphonic metal – is decidedly British, especially in vocalist Mister Curse’s delivery. He’s almost like the new/old rendition of former Sabbat and Skyclad sorcerer Martin Walkyier, who was a master wordsmith, much like Curse is. So while the morose gauntlet of the album’s brilliant opener “Drawing Down the Rain” is set, one is treated to Curse’s thoroughly dour delivery, where it’s like he’s practically shouting at you from a rain-soaked alley in poverty-stricken East London. That sort of thing. But he’s got some range and jostle in his voice as well, as found on additional cuts of note such as “A Blaze of Hammers” and “Part V: Lowly Warm.”

Accompanied (as per the norm) by an elaborate storyline, Beware the Sword You Cannot See is perhaps the deepest album to date from A Forest of Stars. Because of the frequent inclusion of outside instrumentation, combined with the band’s vast riff-set and structural compatibility, this is an album that is worth the challenge. And if anything else, it’s a word of caution to the more safe and predictable bands out there.

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