Album Review: A Forest Of Stars – “Beware The Sword You Cannot See”

A Forest Of Stars
Beware The Sword You Cannot See

It’s not difficult to see why this English avant-garde and highly experimental black metal act netted the best album of the year for me in 2010 with their landmark release, Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring. Yet still the band drew my attention with an even more bombastic release in 2012 entitled A Shadowplay For Yesterdays. Quite simply, there’s nothing in this world quite like these clever Brits and they’ve assured their presence with this fourth, long-awaited release. So what can one expect from Beware The Sword You Cannot See? Is it a hearkening back to the band’s black metal era, perhaps? Is it more of the same bombast that we’ve come to expect from the band? Is it something electronic and of a completely different style altogether? I am certain that you have many questions about this release and hopefully this review will address all of them. First of all, this record very much does bring the black metal sections back, but it adds additional vocal theatrics as well as progressive keyboards and of course the familiar violin antics that we’ve always expected. I’m in part reminded of fellow Englanders The Meads Of Asphodel and that’s certainly not a bad comparison for the material here. As a matter of fact, you should be jumping out of your seat just from hearing that comparison, closing this review right in the middle of the read and pre-ordering your copy right now. Quite simply, the band has offered a slab of meat that’s so thick and juicy that you’ll have to listen to it more than once to truly absorb it. I’m currently on my third listen right now, and I’m finding that material seems even more intriguing as I continue to discover and hear new pieces within the performance. It’s the kind of record that must grow on you and it might take a very long time to do so. Needless to say, it won’t be for everyone, except for those who are truly open-minded to the experimentation and evolution of music, like myself. With such a heavily layered performance of metal and several other musical children assimilated into the liquid membranes that make up this amoebic forest of stardust, Beware The Sword You Cannot See is a record that is sure to leave you salivating as you yearn for yet another taste of its delicacies. Genius like this only comes once every few years, reminding me of the greatness of Jack Spinoza’s Sluggish Morss computer game series. To tell you the full and honest truth, I don’t even know what the album is about insofar as lyrics and that’s due to the sheer fact that I’ve been readily enjoying it as a musical piece alone. Though I’m quite certain there is a message, a sort of symbolic cypher that must be decoded within such a mass of ritualism and bombast and black metal and perhaps one day I will crack that cypher and feel further enlightenment, or perhaps a sense of warning – in essence, I’ll understand the meaning of the sword. If you’re apt to a real adventure in musicianship, then I truly think you’ll find a sense of wonder and mystery to such a beautiful and rather dark offering such as this. Once again, A Forest Of Stars light up the sky with yet another emboldening chapter in such a prodigious legacy. (Eric May)

Purchase Beware The Sword You Cannot See here.

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