Non-domestic black metal has a tendency toward the theatrical — Mayhem and Watain are currently co-headlining a US tour providing ample evidence of just that — but few if any black metal acts commit quite as fully (or as weirdly) as English black metal septet (!) A Forest Of Stars. The band presents itself as a Victorian-era secret society, ostensibly a “Gentlemen’s Club” but privately engaging in dark occult practices. I’m not exaggerating. The band’s current bio opens with: “It is the year 1895. The mysterious Gentlemen’s Club of A Forest Of Stars publicizes its fourth opus in the current format of a phonograph cylinder.” The “Gentlemen’s Club” bit is a clever touch, belied immediately by the fact that one of the band’s members is a woman: their flautist/violinist/co-vocalist, who goes by the name Katheryne, Queen Of The Ghosts. (Other members’ aliases: Mr. T.S. Kettleburner, Mr. Titus Lungbutter, Mr. William Wight-Barrow, Mr. John “The Resurrectionist” Bishop, Mister Curse, and the Gentleman.) Their promo pics look like this; their website looks like this (you won’t be surprised to learn it’s filled with easter eggs). Their music is constructed and delivered with equal commitment: A Forest Of Stars play a form of prog/folk/psych black metal that is equal parts Winterfylleth and Eluveitie and … I dunno, Jethro Tull? Eleanor Catton’s 2013 novel The Luminaries? The Metropolitan Museum Of Art exhibit Death Becomes Her? It is a consumingly insane experience. A Forest Of Stars are set to release their fourth LP, Beware The Sword You Cannot See, next month. The entire second half of the album is composed of a “sexpartite” (!) called “Pawn On The Universal Chessboard.” Today, though, we’ve got the opening track, “Drawing Down The Rain,” which you can listen to below. (Below that, you can download it in exchange for an email address.) Check it out.