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Best metal album of the 2000s so far? - 95%

SoundsofDecay, November 30th, 2013

That's quite a big claim, but I do firmly believe this album has the substance to back that claim up. In my honest opinion this is as good a contender as any for the best metal album of the last few years, if not the whole decade. Its powerful, bizarre and yet infectiously catchy with great songwriting. It represents quite a change from their debut album "The Scream That Tore the Sky". That album was more blatantly death/black metal in nature, as avant-garde as some of it was. This album, while still firmly on the extreme end of the spectrum, introduces a far more "heavy metal" feel to many the riffs and melodies. What I mean by that is that many of the riffs are very powerful and catchy, with a sense of uplifting attitude that reminds me almost of something like Iron Maiden or At The Heart of Winter era Immortal, in the old school sense of metal being this empowering thing that invigorates the listener. The previous reviewer's use of the term "blackened heavy metal" is very apt I think. Put that alongside some equally great, more introspective moments, give it a shot of brutality in the vocal department and you have one undeniably brilliant listening experience.

There's a considerable change in the sound aesthetic from the debut also. This album is a lot more murky sounding, although everything can be heard just fine, its overall more soft on the treble end of things. It has a strange kind of hollow, airy sound that still manages to be pounding when the drums are going full blast. The drummer is clearly very good and has a nice variety of beats up his sleeve, both subtle and aggressive. The guitars, as I have mentioned, are awesome and there is no shortage of highly memorable riffs. There are some fantastic softer moments as well, the opening section of "Chase For The Serpentsong" immediately comes to mind. The bass playing is both audible, and interesting to listen to, something which (as a bass player myself) I will be very quick to praise. The bass really has a driving presence in these songs, which is excellent. The vocalist presents a good blend between black and death metal styles that fits the music perfectly. I cannot fault any aspect of the performances of these guys. The lyrics are quite esoteric and strangely written but I do like them.

This band features people who are/ have been a part of groups such as Mournful Congregation and Portal (in fact the production of this album reminds me a bit of Portal's "Outre"), both bands I am quite into, but I have to say StarGazer is my favourite of the three. This album is perfect proof that they're a great band that more people should be paying attention to, metal is truly still alive and kicking thanks to bands like this who diversify and add interesting new elements while still having a firm grasp of where this music came from. I'll be highly anticipating whatever they come out with next.