Would you look at that cover? I literally have zero idea what is happening between the dragons, beasts, and goddamn robots. A Forest of Stars comes with a mountain of expectations with their name, album title, and general style of “psychedelic” black metal. It would be easier if this band was just disciples of post rock and made long black metal landscapes which had crescendos and piano interludes. The fact that this British band has so much more weird shit in their album is cause for pause, praise, and possibly alarm.
Psychedelic black metal is a frontier genre which has every ability to fall under the weight of its own experiments. It also has the ability to out think itself and suddenly become experimental music with metal flair. Beware the Sword You Cannot See may feel like an end product to massive tinkering through years of experiments yet A Forest of Stars has stayed relatively consistent with their sound since 2008’s The Corpse of Rebirth. What has changed however in the 6 odd years since the band’s formation is an almost predatory ability to make their music more engaging. String arrangements, odd verse structure, twinkling interludes, surreal lyrics, monologues, folk instrumentation, and wailing all coalesce into something that is as interesting as it is repellent. Similar to witches luring children into danger, A Forest of Stars is a basket of sweets in the jaws of a hidden demon.
A Forest of Stars may have an unfortunate name only in the fact that their music may get grouped together with atmospheric black metal. This is a perfectly fine place yet it does not highlight the odd nature of the bands music. Each year, psychedelic black metal grows out and sets up homesteads on a great frontier of weirdness. Beware the Sword You Cannot See is a great middle ground between experimental music, black metal, and theatrical surrealism. I can think of no other place I would want to be then in the belly of this beast.