A Forest of Stars
The Corpse of Rebirth

Sometimes an evocative band name and a striking piece of cover art is all you need to guess at the music within. No, I’m not talking about your average goregrind album either – anyone can figure that sort of thing out. I’m talking about the more esoteric treasures out there, such as this peculiar release from UK-based A Forest of Stars. Ornate woodcut bordering and a haunting, almost childlike drawing conjured up both The Wicker Man and Maurice Sendak as soon as I saw it. Simple, but effective, and it perfectly set my expectations for the music inside: a blend of expansive, dreamlike post-rock; stilted, keening folk, and raw, pagan black metal. Quite a bit of doomy grandeur too – not a surprise considering the band features the vocal and violin talents of Kate Stone from My Dying Bride.

Her decaying, plaintive violin becomes the strongest voice in the wandering first half of “God,” the album’s bleak opener. Eventually, it’s joined by a lonely, cycling riff, and the track takes on the steady pastoral drone of Agalloch or Drudkh. Those are really just tonal comparisons, though – this is barely metal at all, yet its ancestral, yearning mood is hypnotic nonetheless. The track finds its footing in its more insistent second half, when the guitars carve out a ragged groove and the male vocals become coarser and more bestial, with a manic screech added in for dramatic effect. Follow-up “Female” also conjures up the same misty, miserable landscape – close your eyes and you’ll see faint firelight from within slumping hovels of stone and rain-soaked thatch, where haggard men and women cower from the alien, shrieking spirits outside.

The remainder of the album employs a more eccentric approach and mix of elements. “Male” brings in Stone’s delicate, playful female vocal, like a goth-beatnik chanteuse. It’s both fey and arty, like portions of Ulver’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell. This is not necessarily a good thing, because I was enjoying the more terrifying soundscape of the previous two tracks. Luckily, there are enough new, unexpected elements to regain my attention after that – spare, haunting acoustics and shimmery, Floydian bloom in the second half of “Male”, shamanic drumming in “Earth and Matter,” and twisting coils of woodwinds in album closer “Microcosm.” Oh yeah, and male vocoder chanting. Vocoder in black metal, what’s next?

If any of this intrigued you, I definitely recommend making some quiet time to really examine A Corpse of Rebirth. It’s a challenging listen, not just in its scope and stylings, but also because the songs themselves can get unruly and sprawling. A bit more editing and flow could have really made this a truly absorbing listen, and a bit more restraint on the part of vocalist Mister Curse might have struck a better note of rawness against the reverie. Still, A Corpse of Rebirth can be a rewarding journey if you’re in the right frame of mind. Recommended for fans of the new breed of shoegazery black metal (Wolves in the Throne Room, Fen, Alcest), and particularly for fans of oddities like In the Woods or Ved Buens Ende.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
November 11th, 2009


  1. Commented by: ceno

    I just want to say it’s awesome review as always, gaba, even though I’m not a fan of the mentioned bands.

    “Sometimes an evocative band name and a striking piece of cover art is all you need to guess at the music within” – this so fucking true in case with myself.

    ” … close your eyes and you’ll see faint firelight from within slumping hovels of stone and rain-soaked thatch, where haggard men and women cower from the alien, shrieking spirits outside.” – this sounds really yummy.

  2. Commented by: ceno

    … yummy in an inverted way, of course. :lol:

  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Absolutely love quirky bands such as this one. Have you reviewed anything similar to this lately, Gaba? Point me in the right direction, kind sir.

    Do you think I’m yummy too, Igor? :p

  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Cynic – yeah also check out Le Grand Guignol and Carach Angren

  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    oh and if you haven’t heard the new Wodensthrone yet, you NEED to.

  6. Commented by: timshel

    You hooked me with the In The Woods reference. They were a truly unique band.

  7. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Carach Angren – The vocals sound too much like Shagrath for my liking. It distracts my attention from everything else. :(

    Le Grand Guignol – Satan’s very own Cirque Du Soleil? Hahahaha. Liked em very much. Thanks.

    Wodensthrone – Already on my 2009 year-end list, even before you recommended them. Have you heard Winterfylleth or Askival? Seems the UK is producing some amazing pagan gems lately.

  8. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yeah heard both – liked em but Wodensthrone is far and away the best of the three

  9. Commented by: nnn

    That image is not the album cover…

  10. Commented by: gabaghoul

    well that’s what happens when we don’t get an actual CD :)

  11. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    just found this band, incredibly late. AMAZING.

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