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StarGazer – A Merging Into the Boundless

StarGazer
A Merging Into the Boundless
by Harry Green at 19 June 2017, 6:47 AM

STARGAZER burst onto the avant-garde metal scene with their frenzied psychedelic 2005 debut “A Scream that Tore the Sky”. Formed in Adelaide in 1995, the Australian metallers followed up with the louder, more echoing reverb-heavy “A Great Work of Ages” in 2010. Their 2014 release, “A Merging Into the Boundless”, synthesizes and refines the loud, fuzzy approach presented by their previous work with the sound on their debut.

They’ve taken a new direction with this album, and it sounds like they’ve been watching Bandcamp trends because this sounds a lot like a lot of the hot stuff in the “avant-garde” end of Bandcamp-based metal, not that their sound didn’t help define these trends in the first place. The album has a strong sense of sparse ambience from bands like Convulsing and Oskoreien, and a bare-bones thrash-type sound on occasion that’s very reminiscent of Death. On occasion there’s also some of the dreary, lurching, ‘decadent’ sound used by Pensees Nocturnes and Porta Nigra. You’ll hear hints of Akercocke lurking about the album as well. The Great Righteous Destroyer’s bass work remains a prominent part of STARGAZER’s sound, and this coupled with the sharp guitar sound calls Spiral Architect to mind. Otherwise, the overall production is somewhat similar to a refurbished OSDM band like Horrendous – not quite as murky and messy as early 90’s death metal but not as refined as Element or Hieronymus Bosch. For that matter, it’s significantly clearer than either of their previous works.

The repetitive opener “Black Gammon” is fortunately the weakest track on the album. The following track “Old Tea” somehow sounds exactly like its title, expertly evoking the bitter and lukewarmth of whatever cuppa the band discovered sitting around. The stylistically emblematic “An Earth Rides Its Endless Carousel” serves as good metric of the changes from the last two albums to this release. The Akercocke influences come into their own on “The Grand Equalizer”, while the louder, clangier production of their previous album makes a brief comeback on “Ride the Everglade of Reogniroro”, where the band also bring back their harsher and more abrasive vocals from the debut.

This is a less frantic outing for STARGAZER – which, considering the manifest harshness of “A Great Work of Ages”, was probably a good move. The band retain the progressive element that fundamentally defines them and pursue restraint with the right angle; making the production more muted and leaning more heavily on ambience to lend a more flowing feel to the album. It’s common for the third album to mellow out a bit, and STARGAZER have managed to do so without compromising their creativity in the process, all while remaining faithful to their overall sound.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 10
Memorability: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Black Gammon
2. Old Tea
3. An Earth Rides Its Endless Carousel
4. A Merging Into The Boundless
5. The Great Equalizer
6. Ride the Everglade of Reogniroro
7. Incense and Aeolian Chaos
Lineup:
The Great Righteous Destroyer: Bass, Vocals
The Serpent Inquisitor: Guitars, Vocals
Selenium: Drums
Record Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
     


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Edited 24 June 2017
 

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