8/10 – Antti Mikonmäki
(Nuclear War Now! Productions, 2014)
South Australian StarGazer have been active for about 20 years, releasing music quite steadily, although there have been a few about four-year-long breaks, which is probably explained by the amount of underground Metal-bands the three members are also active in.
This long-awaited album starts with a ferocious piece “Black Gammon” featuring old-school Death Metal like early Morbid Angel, but soon showing it’s other faces of Thrash Metal and Prog Rock riffs merged into one, bringing the attitude (yet not totally the style) of bands like Absu. The second song “Old Tea” is bit more calmer and more experimental, reminding us of bands like Ved Buens Ende and Virus, almost to the point of copying. The Third song “An Earth Rides Its Endless Carousel” is also a bit calmer piece (in it’s overall atmosphere), yet featuring the same awesome playing and jamming technical (yet not too complex) Progressive and head-banging Metal from the two first tracks. The fourth titled-track “A Merging To The Boundless” is bit more fast-paced and fierce compared to the last two tracks, but unfortunately still not as Thrashing as the first track. The fifth song “The Grand Equalizer” starts with extremely calm progressive feelings before turning into similar kind of stuff heard during the last songs, but being 11 minutes in length, this piece of Magickal work features of course a huge amount of different material. The sixth song “Ride The Everglade Of Reogniroro” is a bit more in the vein of the first song, with the most Deathly aspects of the album. The seventh and last song “Incense And Aeolian Chaos” is quite energetic in nature as well, reminding me again of some mid-nineties Absu etc.
The overall-sounds are quite damp and murky giving the whole album a mysterious and quite eighties feelings. The amazingly played guitars sound pretty typical and (again eighties), while the basses seem sometimes to be even clearer and more audible in the mix, painting awesome highly skilfully played melodies across this fierce Thrashing Prog tapestry (the kind playing which always reminds me of Steve DiGiorgio of Death’s “Human” and “Individual Patterns”). The drums are played with equal skill compared to the guitars and bass, I’m especially loving the Sandoval-sounding double-bass-drums. The vocals are usually quite Thrashing in nature, yet sometimes sounding like a sinister Blackened version of seventies Prog. Also more Death Metallic lower stuff can be heard towards the end of the album.
This album will most likely appeal to anyone into for example 1991-1995-era works of Chuck Schuldiner, eighties Thrash Metal, more modern Black Thrash, and of course Prog Rock at the same time as well. However, if the production and sounds were a bit more better, this band would likely gain even vaster amounts of fans from different scenes outside the underground Metal arenas as well. However, It’s hard to say if they would really appreciate that or not.