Whilst the UK hasn’t always been recognised as a hotbed for Black Metal bar the occasional, exceptional case; recent times suggest the burgeoning of a rich scene in the underground; from the likes of A Forest Of Stars getting wide plaudits to the new breed which includes Wode, Underdark and Dawn Ray’d flying the flag. Also throwing their hat into the ring, Nottingham up-and-comers Antre offer a somewhat esoteric and widely influenced strain of the genre with a full-length debut that not only personifies the depth the genre has to offer but also puts them as a prime force in the UK’s scene. Continue reading →
One of the truly unique music labels in the underground, Prophecy Productions, returns with their really special music festival. Prophecy Fest takes place in a natural cave formed in the Old Stone Age – Balver Höhle. According to Germanic Saga, the blacksmith Wieland had his workshop in the cave. Balve, Germany, is situated in the center of Germany between Dortmund, Cologne, Frankfurt, and Hannover. Beyond myths, the show will be the stuff of legend with the following nine bands: Empyrium (Exclusive European performance 2019), Strid (Exclusive Central European performance 2019), Farsot and Coldworld (performing Toteninsel World Premiere) Year Of The Cobra, Disillusion, A Forest Of Stars, Laster, Fen, Tchornobog. Seven more bands will be announced at a later date. For tickets and full festival details, see the link below. Continue reading →
It has been a decade now since I first saw A Forest Of Stars at their debut gig in Leeds, and they’ve always occupied a special place for me in music since then. They mash-up progressive Black Metal with a folky presence and wrap it up within a steampunk inspired Victorian based package. What results from this can sometimes be a little hit and miss, but generally contains many objects of wonder. Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes, marks their third full length released on Prophecy Productions.Continue reading →
With everyone firmly into the swing of things by now, Saturday’s main stage openers Nailed to Obscurity opened proceedings strongly enough but were promptly blown out of the water by one of the major surprises of the festival – Power Trip. A combination of thrash and early death metal, the Texan act were a blur of riffs and speed, whipping up the early afternoon crowd into an explosive cyclone of energy. Continue reading →
Damnation Festival has added six more bands to its growing 2018 lineup! Napalm Death, Entombed AD, Vader, Ohhms, A Forest Of Stars, Leeched have been added to a bill that already includes Anaal Nathrakh, Mol, The Ocean, and NeObliviscaris. Six more bands will be announced this fall. Damnation will take place over four stages at Leeds University Union on Saturday, 3rd November 2018. Continue reading →
“The Ride Majestic continues the slow and subtle evolution of the Soilwork sound; sounding fuller, richer and shinier than all that have gone before. In a career of great albums, the aptly named The Ride Majestic is truly outstanding.”
“While the main focus is still here in the now frontier, by opening the floodgates, Parkway have allowed themselves to write a batch of great metal songs that reference classic rock, traditional metal, 90’s groove metal and metalcore while still sounding resolutely and proudly Parkway.”
18. Dragged Into Sunlight / Gnaw Their Tongues – ‘N.V.’ (Prosthetic)
“A genuinely effective whole, the Noise elements are relatively subtly played, often used to accentuate and highlight the Metal rather than entomb them. Whether judged as a collaboration between two artists with similar aesthetic goals or as an album in its own right, N.V. is an unrestrained success”
17. Bring Me The Horizon – ‘That’s The Spirit’ (RCA/Columbia)
“That’s The Spirit is Horizon maturing into a fine young adult, confident, strong and secure in themselves and the knowledge that they are now master craftsmen. Successfully combining every good aspect of alternative rock and metal of the last fifteen years, That’s The Spirit is Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘Black Album’ moment.”
Exemplary progressive stoner metal, with meticulous dynamics and depth, breadth, power, restraint, and mountainous music that builds to an almighty epic of a crescendo
15. Between The Buried And Me – ‘Coma Ecliptic’ (Metal Blade)
Ghost Cult Album of the Month –October “The record that they were always promising to make but you weren’t sure was possible, on Coma Ecliptic, Between the Buried and Me have exceeded all expectations and delivered not only the album of their careers but one of the most monumental ambitious rock concept pieces this side of Operation Mindcrime.”
14. Gloryhammer – ‘Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards’ (Napalm)
“Gloryhammer are ridiculously entertaining. If you somehow manage to listen to new album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards without grinning like an idiot all the way through it, then quite simply, you’re getting Metal wrong.”
13. A Forest Of Stars – ‘Beware The Sword You Cannot See’ (Lupus Lounge/Prophecy)
“Enthralling storytelling and atmosphere, as well as explorations into psychedelic territory and pastoral folk amid the crushing black metal dynamics; fourth effort Beware the Sword You Cannot See is an unabashed masterpiece.”
“Clear, soulful tones elevate the songs above the rest of their stoner/doom brethren and vocal lines will lodge in your head for days after. An excellent comeback album from a band that has been away for far too long. Let’s hope they decide to keep this motor running for a little longer this time around.”
“There are no throw away songs on this album, and every track rewards repeated listens. Crooked Doors is the sound of pressure cooking sand into glass and then into diamonds, all with an alchemy fuelled by magic and loss.”
Given Britain’s tendency to produce eccentrics, the emergence of Leeds troupe A Forest of Stars in 2007 may have caused a few heads to turn, but their glorious weirdness, even in a scene as narrow and regimented as black metal, has always worked to their advantage. Existing in their own interpretation of Victorian England where decadence, occult magick and narcotic experimentation reigned supreme, the septet’s three previous albums were all well received, with plaudits given for their enthralling storytelling and atmosphere as well as explorations into psychedelic territory and pastoral folk amid the crushing black metal dynamics. Further accolades look set to follow, for fourth effort Beware the Sword You Cannot See (Lupus Lounge/Prophecy) is an unabashed masterpiece.
With a concept heavily focused on death and rebirth, this is the album that shows A Forest of Stars transcending the rigid parameters of their earthly shackles and soaring off into the unknown with aplomb. The thunderous tremolo picking and double-bass assault evident on tracks such as ‘A Blaze of Hammers’ leaves the listener in no doubt that the band aren’t going to do an Opeth on us, but it’s the surging progressive flourishes and sense of ambition that makes this such a special listening experience, as demonstrated by the ascending chords and lush female vocals courtesy of violinist Kathryne Queen of the Ghosts on the magnificent album opener ‘Drawing Down the Rain.’ Speaking of ambition, the six part odyssey that is ‘Pawn on the Universal Chessboard’ which comprises the latter half of the album is mind-boggling in scope, ranging from spacy Tangerine Dream style synths on ‘Mindslide’, masterful dark prog on ‘Have You Got a Light, Boy?’ to pummelling black metal orthodoxy on ‘Lowly Worm.’
Special mention must go to vocalist Mr Curse for a truly astonishing performance where he shrieks, yelps and dips heavily into theatrical spoken word delivery to tell the story of the album, producing some fantastic lyrics (“Fuck you and the worms you rode in on!”) and acting as demonic ringleader to this spectacular carnival of unearthly delights. It may be too early to call A Forest of Stars the British answer to Enslaved but if they keep on producing records as excellent as this then their status will be in no doubt.
Early contender for one of the albums of the year.