Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes Album Review

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Band: A Forest of Stars
Album: Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes
Country of Origin: UK
Release Date: 28 September 2018
Genre: Melodic black metal/folk/experimental
Label: Prophecy Productions

Oh my! What’s happening? Is it possible? Can it really be… a metal cousin of Current 93? In a lot of ways, yes.

Needless to say, I’m jumping for joy here. There’s something about the rustic, apocalyptic folk and wailing, a-tonal vocals of Current 93 that simply makes it an excellent fit for the metal world. A Forest of Stars accomplishes this crossover with a highly individual and creative flair that I can’t praise enough.

2018’s Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes is a pure fucking gem. “Precipice Pirouette” thunders into existence with a cascade of riffing that wants to evoke black metal, but retains a core focus on a noisy, almost folk-like melodic drone that seems a bit too expressive for comparison to bands like Mayhem. Burzum would probably be closer, sans the electronics. Five minutes in (yes, the song is a ten minute behemoth, and that’s a good thing. If you lack the patience or enthusiasm to weather a sonic performance that takes less time than it does to mow the fucking lawn, steer clear of A Forest of Stars… or any other band I review here, for that matter) things slow down to a idyllic folk passage–one that really feels like european “folk,” i.e., simple, melodic, and haunting. The result is just… awesome.

Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes is a lushly layered, expertly crafted, and utterly relistenable work of wonder. Descriptions are totally worthless without comparison, so I’ll cite Menace Ruine here. The resemblance is apparent, but A Forest of Stars’ overall product is totally unique. A very distinct stylistic originality keeps the album from falling into the ever-growing dollar bin of “Great Instances of Unfortunately Rehashed Concepts.” A Forest of Stars is breaking new ground here, and any metal fanatic knows how fucking rare an event this is.

I’m listening to the melodramatic spoken-word interlude on “Tombward Bound” right now, just wondering how the hell I missed out on these guys before. I’ll be looking forward to purchasing a hard copy of this release in September, and you should too. If your a Current 93 or Sol Invictus fan who happens to love metal, you have no choice; you must pick this up. To those who like their metal with a heavy dose of weirdness but in a way that remains entirely listenable, make sure you don’t miss out either.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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