"Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes"

By Dr. Abner Mality

No band captures the woozy delirium of a Victorian opium binge better than A Forest of Stars. It's like these blokes have come to us directly from some old English asylum where iron cages were bound around the heads of the inmates and icewater baths were used to bring "sanity" to the incurable. The band has been treading this hazy path for a number of years now and have perfected their unique approach, which is by no means easy to comprehend. On "Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes", they take their sound even further into the realms of madness.

Insanity is a very apt description of this music, which combines a kind of uniquely English Gothic sense with berserk blasts of feral black metal and morose doom. The male "singing" here is more like the shrieking and rambling of a madman who is frantically trying to hold onto coherent thought and losing the battle. It's more like screamed and babbling poetry but it creates a much different mood than the typical black metal rasps, which you will not hear here. In contrast, the female vocals are almost too sweet. Long songs journey through many peaks and valleys from very subtle and uneasy melodies to complete lunatic black metal. How this can stand in the shadow of mediocrity like Cradle of Filth is a mystery to ponder. There are several occasions where your patience will be tested, but the whole album hangs together as one long descent into madness. From "Persistence Is All", which is a great introduction to both the subtle and manic aspects of A Forest of Stars to the last avant-garde explorations of "Decomposing Deity Dancehall", the album resembles the strange ramblings of William Blake and Thomas de Quincy brought to life.

Not easy listening by any means, but possessed of a singular vision all its own and worth celebrating for that alone...