Review: Ketzer – Starless


Karhu gives a listen to the latest from Ketzer.

Ketzer is one band that has never been content with resting on their laurels. Every release has seen the band cover new ground. On Satan’s Boundaries Unchained, the band dropped a potent slab (sorry) of black/thrash in the vein of Nocturnal, Destroyer 666 and Desaster. That album has been widely revered as one of the best black/thrashing moments of the last decade, and it pretty much lives up to all the hype surrounding it to this day. Their sophomore, Endzeit Metropolis, was a curious case; the hype never seemed to reach it, like it did SBU. And much of the thrashing side had caved in, in favor of a more atmospheric, post-metal-esque and stop-start riffing approach. Nevertheless, it delivered riffs with the fury of a Fever’s Tide and deserved more than it got. Now, Ketzer has abandoned their stage names and signed to a bigger label. Have they, like our boy Stanley predicted, wimped out?

Yes they have, but does it need to be a bad thing? No it doesn’t. But in this case it totally is.

Starless has already been met with criticism for sounding a lot like The Children Of The Night, Tribulation’s surprise hit of 2015. While this is true, Satan’s Boundaries Unchained, their righteously revered debut, wasn’t exactly groundbreaking either – whatever faults one can find on Starless, going from sounding like one (group of) band(s) to sounding like another one is hardly one of them. However, failing to deliver one second of worthwhile material is. And that’s about the only thing Starless does.

The limping title track opens the album up with a riff about as potent as my great-great-great-grandfather, and whatever little momentum it manages to build is completely lost on “When Milk Runs Dry” – going from a quiet build-up straight to nowhere for almost six minutes. And so the album continues right until the end. The only noteworthy moments on the album are the acoustic interludes (clocking less than two minutes combined), the “rock ‘n rolling” riff of “Godface”, and… well, that’s it. The rest of the songs are between three and almost twelve(?) minutes of boredom. And these “noteworthy” moments aren’t good either, they’re just a tad more memorable than the rest.

The worst thing about Starless isn’t that every song is utterly bad, ’cause they aren’t. It’s that they are not only boring as heck, but the band manages to sound completely passionless. This is not an album created by a an inspired band, this is an album created a group of tired musicians who’d rather call it a day, but don’t know how to stop. If Ketzer had been trying to jump aboard the Tribulation-train for the money, they’d sound thrice as inspired as they do now. They more likely happened across TCoTN after already having written half-assed a number of songs, saw that they were good and figured they could sound similar without any actual effort.

If you’re in for an album filled with mediocre-ly grooving riffs, a rocking beat, petty songwriting and impotent croaks for vocals with a few moments spent building lacking atmosphere, quickly lost as the band doesn’t know how to capitalize on their ideas, well you’re in luck. Ketzer just released undoubtedly one of this year’s biggest disappointments.

1/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell


Starless is out now via Metal Blade.

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