STARGAZER "A Merging to the Boundless" LP
Although the members of StarGazer are among the most active musicians in the Australian underground metal scene, they only infrequently release music under the StarGazer banner. Because of the band’s meticulous approach to every aspect of the music, when they do finally put out new material, there is little doubt as to the degree of quality one can expect. For these reasons, the announcement earlier this year that a new StarGazer album was on the horizon has generated a massive amount of anticipation, and with the release of “A Merging to the Boundless,” expectations will not only be met, but exceeded. Despite approaching the 20-year mark of StarGazer’s existence, “A Merging to the Boundless” is only the band’s third full-length album. Each of the band’s releases demonstrates continual growth and evolution, while maintaining the core traits that characterize all of StarGazer’s music. With this album, as with the previous one, “A Great Work of Ages,” the band continues to shed old skins, revealing new, variegated forms and patterns beneath. In reference to StarGazer one often hears terms like “Progressive Death Metal.” While the band is undeniably technical and almost certainly influenced by myriad styles of music that are subtly incorporated into the tapestry of their sound, the term “progressive” often carries with it a somewhat negative connotation, suggesting either the sterile, academic approach of Progressive Rock or a naïve attempt to be “experimental.” StarGazer deftly avoid both of these pitfalls. While nearly peerless in terms of their technical proficiency and their reliance upon unpredictable arrangements, StarGazer never allow their dedication to craft to be infected by hollow displays of musical prowess. The new album opens with the title track, featuring frenetic, labyrinthine riffs stitched together seamlessly across disparate keys and tempos. While the disorienting fury of the title track may harken back to the more decidedly Black/Death style of band’s earlier recordings, the album shifts abruptly with the somber intro to “An Earth Rides its Endless Carousel” – one of the several standout tracks on the album. Beginning with a lush instrumental passage adorned with shimmering, clean guitars and sweeping bass arpeggios, the song gradually gains momentum before eventually erupting. The track, like the album as a whole, shifts and moves, waxes and wanes, in a thoroughly organic manner, never feeling choppy or forced. The album continues to unfold, revealing new dimensions – passages of fractured pandemonium give way to tranquil vistas that disappear again like mirages into the chaotic aether. As with the band’s music, StarGazer’s lyrics also transcend boundaries. Conceptually elusive, but deeply evocative, the lyrical content bespeaks an arcane knowledge and mystical bent while conveying a rich poetic sensibility: “That blazing sun under my lids, behind my teeth, lay dead on the precipice of the abyss.” The album closes with “The Grand Equalizer,” which, at approximately 11 minutes, is the longest track in StarGazer’s catalog. It is a fitting culmination to the album – hallucinatory at times, punctuated with majestic riffs laden with densely interwoven melodies. As the song ends, and with it the album, the listener is left wandering at the edge of the void. “A Merging to the Boundless” is nothing short of a masterpiece and arguably the most profound and articulate statement StarGazer has made.
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