A Merging to the Boundless
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Having been out of touch with the bestial style of black/death metal of late, StarGazer came as quite a surprise to me, coming highly recommended by a friend who swore by their brand new full length album, A Merging to the Boundless as one of the best extreme metal releases of the year. With two critically acclaimed full lengths under their belts since their formation all the way back in 1995, as well as a lineup with musicians from influential Australian acts such as Cauldron Black Ram, Tzun Tzu and Denouncement Pyre, I was certainly excited to hear the masterpiece that is A Merging to the Boundless.
Black Gammon kicks off like many of the typical bestial, filthy black/death metal bands. At the start, one is reminded of Skullfucking-era Impiety, and I have to admit that I felt slightly cheated, thinking that this was gonna be another of those releases. But StarGazer turns things around and prove me wrong quickly enough, showing off their songwriting skills as the album progresses. Not much later into Black Gammon, the band slows things down a bit, and this is where the magic begins as they start to display the range of influences that have gone into the melting pot. The riffs of The Serpent Inquisitor range from the cold, bleak style of second-wave black metal to the urgent, chaotic style of bands like Slayer to riffs that reek of Floridian death metal, with the combination of speed and brutality bearing striking resemblance to the works of Morbid Angel or Malevolent Creation especially on the title track.
All these aren’t possible without the abilities of the individual band members, as each show off their versatility behind their instruments. Personally, the most notable is bassist The Great Righteous Destroyer’s bass, where he complements the riffs and leads of The Serpent Inquisitor with equally demanding and complex bass lines. In a genre where the basslines are either boring or buried in the mix, this definitely helps in making StarGazer a more interesting band to listen to. Tracks like An Earth Rides its Endless Course show off how the bass is cleverly utilised, with a range of techniques to create a nice atmosphere, not unlike the more recent Cynic releases.
Throughout the album, the band ensures that the listener is enshrouded by a thick fog, and the cleverness of the band can be seen through the usage of the production to create a range of emotions, from the spine-tingling, chilling moments on Old Tea, to slightly more melancholic ones on tracks like An Earth Rides its Endless Course.
It is really hard to give a general description of StarGazer‘s A Merging to the Boundless, with each track presenting a different face of the band to the listener from the previous one. There is so much that is going on on the album, that one can be sure that each listen is yet another new, refreshing discovery. Definitely one of the key releases of the year for fans of any extreme metal genre at all, with the perfect balance of speed, brutality and bleakness, with a beautiful atmosphere to accompany the whole StarGazer experience.
Favourite picks: An Earth Rides its Endless Course, The Grand Equalizer