Released: 2010, Transcendental Creations
I don’t know what it is about Englishmen and their ability to create and expand genres. Maybe it’s living in multi-cultural downtown London? Something to do with Stonehenge? Maybe it’s something in the water? Who knows? Regardless AFOS are really quite a unique proposition and a fine one at that. I don’t know exactly why but this quintet remind me a bit of The Meads Of Asphodel. Probably just the Avante-garde English Black Metal thing.
Why is that Black Metal is seldom referred to as Progressive? The hallmarks ‘Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring’ are all present, long songs, interesting arrangements, application of different sounds, non-traditional instruments…sounds proggy to me! Plus, long songs. Lots of long songs! Six cuts clocking in at well over an hour and short one being a mere 8 minutes! Luckily for us the band manage to keep things interesting. Even with all those great Prog type influences, A FOREST OF STARS really are firmly in the black Metal camp. I’m hearing some old OPETH maybe, some little hints of bands like ENCHANTMENT and LAKE OF TEARS.
Enough name-dropping however, these guys can certainly stand on their own. The gentle lilting flute, juxtaposed with ripping guitar and harsh vocals on the cut ‘Raven’s Eye View’ is just one of many examples where the band add interesting flourishes to the mix. The harsh vocals are indeed harsh but still discernable and not in the shriek/hiss/croak style of some vocalist in Black Metal.
There is a lot to digest here, certainly headphone worthy and well worth an in-depth exploration of what they have to offer. The opening three minutes of ‘Thunder’s Cannonade’ are enthralling, very delicate, violin and acoustic guitar before being integrated into the rest of the heavier sections of the song. It is certainly not an immediate listen, with many subtleties, long intros, and inter-laced parts. This collection of songs, is a good choice for the more experimental and adventurous Black Metal fans.