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The Thirteenth Sun - Stardust Award winner

The Thirteen Sun
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 31 July 2017, 4:06 AM

This is a first for me in my prolific writing days so far…a band from Transylvania, Romania. You’re probably now conjuring up images of bats, blood, thirsty vampires and dark, rainy nights where creatures roam the town freely, consuming unsuspecting victims and making sacrifices to pagan Gods, right? C’mon…metal-heads know better than to believe in stereotypes, so, no, quite the opposite actually. THE THIRTEENTH SUN is a Progressive Metal band, and are presenting their debut full-length album here entitled “Stardust,” which contains seven new tracks. “Universus” sets the opening tone. Delicate harmonies and clear, accessible vocals paint a lush landscape of colorful flowers in a meadow on a spring day. Their sense of the ethereal is strong…it’s a dreamy song in the vein of a band like RIVERSIDE or LUNATIC SOUL. But they can also bring the power. Fuzzy, thudding guitar riffs and more earnest vocals are here as well, balancing the clashing of light and dark.

“Pathways” uses harmonized vocals and smooth guitar notes to create a sound that is lush, pretty and gloomy at the same time, leaving you unable to decide which of these things is most prominent. A good Prog song should always keep you guessing, and able to garner something different each time to you listen to it, and this is the case here. “Planes of Creation” opens with a subdued guitar melody that is bright and clean, elegant and pleasing. But the beast inside cannot be held prisoner for long. Eerie keyboards laden with vibrato and our first occurrence of Death vocals remind us that there are things that go bump in the night after all. “Universe is Burning” is over nine minutes in length. As the title suggests, there is a grave and predominantly heavy sound from the start. But those melodies are still there as well. After a few harsh minutes, they come back full circle, and I am reminded of the tale of two styles that a band like OPETH often perform. Too much one way can be too narrow of a sound, but this track is expansive and alive. Trippy effects and a long ambient passage are just as effective here, as are the scream of “The universe is burning” and the return of Death vocals. This diverse song is probably my favorite on the album.

“Melting Skies” begins with piano keys and clean vocals, with a suspenseful sound. Anytime you try to visualize something vast and amorphous like “the sky” with an action verb like “melting” you can get the sense a supernatural occurrence. Seeing something like that would be unbelievable and sure to stir self-doubt in your ability to rely on your senses. This mysterious sounding track is an audible depiction of something that magnanimous. There is really a high level of craft here that is very moving. “The Fabric of Time” opens with key notes that sound almost child-like, similar to what you might hear as the ice cream truck drives down the street. But again, it doesn’t last long, as the driver of the truck is not what you thought you saw before. The song is murky and chilling, but inviting and reverent at the same time.

“Glowing Sun” closes this wonderfully unconventional but sublime listening experience. This instrumental track has elements that seem to encapsulate all of the various characteristics of the previous songs, and the album as a whole. The way they balance purity and melody with aggressiveness and malevolence…the attention shown in brilliant songwriting…the ability to keep the listener fully engaged and unable to guess where the song might head from one passage to the next…and perhaps the most important thing…the authentic joy of this exquisitely crafted album of Progressive Metal. I have heard a lot of great albums this year so far, but “Stardust” from THE THIRTEENTH SUN is truly exceptional.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Universus
2. Pathways
3. Planes of Creation
4. Universe is Burning
5. Melting Skies
6. The Fabric of Time
7. Glowing Sun
Barna Radu Liviu - Vocals/Guitar
Muntean Marius - Key/Synths/Soundscapes/Backing Vocals
Marius Licu - Guitar
Alecu - Bass
Septimiu Harsan – Drums
Record Label: Aural Music


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Edited 05 December 2022

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