A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is the third album for England’s A Forest of Stars and their debut for Prophecy Productions. After reading the press release that accompanied this album, I had some serious misgivings about listening to this. When you refer to your band as a “gentlemen’s club” and “an exclusive brotherhood of Victorian Englishmen,” the hairs on the back of my neck go up and I immediately sense pretentious and overly dramatic Gothic Metal that’s heavy on the Goth and light on the Metal. In a way, this does partially describe A Forest of Stars pretty well. They are overly dramatic and pretentious, but they turned out to be far more Metal than I expected. I’ve heard this band being compared to Cradle of Filth because of their Classical influences, but unlike Cradle’s more Wagnerian tendencies, A Forest of Stars is more Baroque in style. The vocals are like listening to a bad actor reciting the lines of a horror production written by a fourth-rate hack that believes that he’s better than Mary Shelley at crafting true tales of Gothic horror. There’s more overly dramatic ham acting here than William Shatner’s entire body of work. What really saves this album is the music. It takes a little while to get going, but once A Forest of Stars hits their stride, this gets really, really good. A Shadowplay for Yesterdays sounds like one part Cradle of Filth, one part old My Dying Bride, one part Folk Metal, one part Baroque-era Classical with a ton of Victorian/Gothic atmosphere. Tracks like “Left Behind As Static” and “A Prophet for a Pound of Flesh” are positively epic. The hammed up vocals keep this from absolute perfection, but even with that, this is by far one of the best written records of the year. If this band released an instrumental version of this album, I’d rate it a ten because it’s that good. Maybe that’s something to look forward to in the future.
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