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More than solid debut - 79%

darkinge, March 20th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, KarstRecordings

It was just recently when I stumbled upon music of Stars Will Burn Your Flesh, this Slovenian black metal duo. Even though I was familiar with the less serious project Coldhand of the band's main songwriter N.V., I did not know that his main project SWBYF has been around for almost ten years already. This probably is not so surprising, if we consider the fact that the band was pretty reserved about sharing their material on the internet in the early years of existence and it was just a few years ago when they actually made their music available for online purchase. All of this tells a lot of the band's character and their dedication to really obscure realms of the underground black metal scene.

Nonetheless, I somehow managed to get hands on their debut full-length Heldraan's Domain which contains five songs (plus one "hidden" bonus song which is actually just a re-recorded version of the second track). The one major thing I noticed while listening to the album was its specific low fidelity production and quite unique sound which made comparisons to any other bands really difficult. Songs on Heldraan's Domain sound like a fusion of numerous other black metal acts with some hints of more melodic guitar lines and minimalistic recording. Overall album sounds like it was recorded in one longer session, which gives it really authentic feeling where you can hear occasional "mistakes", sloppiness and technical glitches, something which is erased in the sterile, predictable final mixes of today's well-known black metal acts. The album of course is not flawless. Even though I enjoyed most of the songs and I was able to find some really strong (even if sometimes short) moments in every one of them, they sometimes become a little boring, stretching beyond the optimal lengths of this kind of songwriting. I also think that overall sound of the album would be better with more distortion, considering its low fidelity production.

All in all, if you are looking for a unique but non-experimental semi-melodic/semi-epic and not so extreme atmospheric black metal album (without cheesy keyboards) that did not succumb to production and mixing values of pop mainstream and if you appreciate DIY attitude, I would definitely recommend this release, even though it is not the strongest (nor the weakest) in the band's discography. On the other hand, if you like usual mainstream black metal stuff (e.g. newer Dimmu, Marduk...) or even some hipsteric pseudo black metal (e.g. Liturgy, Deafheaven etc.) then you should stay away from this.

Humiliating - 20%

H_P Buttcraft, June 8th, 2014

Last year, when Deafheaven came out with “Sunbather”, it was one of the most divisive albums to come out in a while and it was also one of the best albums of 2013.

What made “Sunbather” so important is that it announced that the era of raw, unpolished, poorly produced Black Metal albums is at its End Times. The spirit of Black Metal refuses to be tied down to themes about cold weather, Satan and suicide. Deafheaven exemplified that it is possible to write Black Metal and still have a warm, glowing, melodic style that can appeal to a much larger audience. What Deafheaven did with “Sunbather” makes music made by the likes of Stars Will Burn Your Flesh obsolete in this day and age.

Slovenia’s Stars Will Burn Your Flesh is just your run-of-the-mill Black Metal outfit that fail to be fresh or inspiring. The band consists mainly of one guy, N.V. a.k.a. Coldhand although technically there is another person involved (named J.P. on the album) credited toward the drums but he is clearly using a drum machine so he is only a button-pusher, not an actual drummer. “Heldraan’s Domain” is just simply another band trying to do the same thing that Varg Vikernes did before he went to prison. I should also mention that he is no longer going to be making any more music as Burzum which is another sign that Black Metal is overdue to evolve to something beyond what Stars Will Burn Your Flesh sound like.

Getting down to brass tax, “Heldraan’s Domain” is a monotonous album with piss-poor production. There are only or three settings on their drums machine that get played and the guitar sounds terrible. Did Coldhand plug it directly into the mixing board? The vocals are equally as useless, with reverb levels that cover up the inability to scream.

I read that the two people that make up Stars Will Burn Your Flesh came up with their own language for their previous albums so looking at the lyrics for these songs is another complete waste of your time. But who really cares what they are saying? They don’t really have much to say anyways. Some of the sections of these songs sound like the band didn’t even listen to this album very closely in post-production thus releasing “Heldraan’s Domain” with many audio hiccups. You can hear very distinctly where the guitar strumming and drum machines lose sync with each other. Come on, Stars Will Burn Your Flesh, at least try to care a little bit.

And just what exactly is up with this band’s name? It doesn’t make any sense! Maybe if they were called ‘Suns Will Burn Your Flesh’, at least there you can see why your flesh is being burnt.

I could put more words here to go on about how dismal and disposable this album is but I won’t rub it in the band’s face. There’s just no excuse to make of music with such embarrassingly poor quality anymore.

(originally published on Metal-Temple.com, 1-28-2014)