Stargazer – A Merging to the Boundless

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Hey flushers, how many Stargazer fans do we have here? I didn’t see A Merging to the Boundless on many top 10 lists in 2014 (though I know mah boy Simon Phoenix digs) [It was on my list, you dork.Masterlord]; but I think that’s mainly attributable to the fact that the album was intended for a 12.31.14 release (then silently got bumped up to 12.02.14). If you were like me, you were chomping at the bit for more Stargazer music. Their first album Scream That Tore the Sky dropped in 2005, then A Great Work of Ages in 2010… they were definitely due for some new output. And put out they did!

Elegant. Graceful. Words you might not associate with progressive death/black metal. But let’s do it for this album. The first single “An Earth Rides Its Endless Carousel” might have caught some of you off-guard, as it’s not the face-melter we might have expected from the band who composed Scream That Tore the Sky 14 years ago. It starts off with clean guitars, gentle and audible bass lines, and some jazzy drumming. The track takes over three minutes to sound like the Stargazer to which we are accustomed…  So the question is: do we worry? Are we ready for a mature Stargazer, without scorching riffs? I’ll do a quick album breakdown:

Track 1: “Black Gammon.” I’m willing to say that one of the most badass things a metal band can do is scream the title of the song at the beginning of the track AND at the end of it. The first track of the album does this, and more: it throws a thrashy brick right at your head from the moment it starts. Stargazer is reminding us that they can shred with the best of them with breakneck riffs. The song does not slow down for its entire length. We can rest easy that this is the band we’re used to.

Tracks 2 and 3: …And we were [semi]wrong! “Old Tea” and “An Earth Rides Its Endless Carousel” aren’t the blackened thrashy songs of old. Instead of throwing riffs at us, they’re flexing their jazzy muscles. (A similar thing has been done by Intronaut since Valley of Smoke). It really seems that the members of the band are having fun with with their back-and-forths; the drummer will throw a little tom-tom-hiss-hiss over to the bassist, who will respond with a little bloobidy-bloobidy-blum. They just aren’t that heavy.

Track 4: Okay here we go, the death ‘n black have returned. If you have ADD, please take an Adderall prior to listening. This spastic track contains so many different riffs and tempo changes that it’s almost impossible to stay on track. This is a progressive black/death band doing their version of the Dillinger Escape Plan. Give ‘er a listen and see what I mean:

Track 5: “The Grand Equalizer.” If the last track was Stargazer doing DEP, this is them doing Pink Floyd. This 11-minute opus takes a patient ear, but rewards in spades. (Side note: in college I knew two kinds of Pink Floyd fans, those who enjoyed the entirety of “Echoes” and those who just liked the short version from the greatest hits; this song is clearly for the former). “The Grand Equalizer” is a slow burner; jazzy in the beginning before transitioning into the main riff. You’re going to hear a killer guitar solo followed by a… bass solo! Then the song eases into quieter territory (akin to the middle portion of “Echoes”) with the drummer really owning the show. In keeping with the Pink Floyd comparison, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with the final few minutes of rock, for they return to the main riff with a new found sense of energy. It’s like they finally merged with the boundless.

Tracks 6 and 7: “Ride the Everglade of Reogniroro” is a bit of a return to form, and the main riffs really reminds me of my favorite track by the band, “…Of The Sun”. It’s 3 minutes and 20 seconds of the Stargazer of old. There’s ferocious tremolo picking, traditional double bass drumming, and a few skronky surprises thrown in for good measure (they must be aware of TovH’s collective love for such moments). The final track of the album “Incense and Aeolian Chaos” seems to have the most cohesion. One can tell that they wanted a memorable track to close it off, one with the fewest amount of WTF?! moments. The riffs are fast, they keep the jazzing to a minimum, and in the final moments they really go in for that punch of closure. For an album with so many different riffs and time changes, this was a great track to end it on.

So in the end, about half of the songs really grab you by the throat, then knee you in the crotch. The other half do a great job of showcasing the different artists’ skills and jazz influence without being too bludgeoning… and I think a fair amount of listeners may take umbrage at this fact. And then there are the tracks that will have you scratching your head, attempting to make sense of it all. Or maybe that pure, organized chaos is going to be right up your alley? Somebody once asked me (you know who you are) if “an old man might like this band,” and I truly believe that the answer is “FLUSH YES!” Stargazer isn’t a band of gimmicks. They don’t chase trends, and I doubt they even know words like “breakdown” or “djent.” They are skilled musicians and songwriters, first and foremost. There may be a little jazzy circlejerking but they’re 100% professional. One can understand the longer time periods between albums.

Verdict:

“A Merging to the Boundless” does not shred with the consistency of previous releases; and at times it sounds as if the longer instrumental passages weren’t planned; as if the musicians are playing off one another as a long inside joke. But, in the end, these faults don’t stop this from being a very good album. It’s a difficult listen, one that rewards with a good pair of headphones and high dose of focus.

NO FLUSH


I want you folks to sound off in the comments section (like that’ll take much persuasion)! Tell us your favorite Stargazer song, or let us know if this is your first time hearing of them.

You can purchase A Merging to the Boundless here (Nuclear War Now productions).  While you’re at it, buy their first two albums Scream that Tore the Sky and A Great Work of Ages… these albums are simply classic and 100% unflushable.

(Image via) (Image via)

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  • Sorry I am off topic. But I checked out the TOH facebook page and found this….
    Potty training – lol!

    Also, this is my first time hearing Stargazer. Love the vocals JJM

    GL

    • Also, this is a caption for HD on a first date:

      GL

      • Howard Dean

        Hahahahaha.

  • Howard Dean

    I received this album after I had made my top 10, but this certainly would have made my list had I heard it earlier. Musicianship is astounding–these Aussies outdid themselves with this one. Their best work yet, edging out even A Great Work of Ages. Nice work, Jimmy!

  • BLVKKBEVRD

    I dug this album but not enough for repeated spins

  • Tyree

    Good work handsome. I have not listened to this album yet, but I have heard a song. Looking forward to checking this out.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UuwuycAVS2Y/UHk3QjDUi1I/AAAAAAAADT0/oQqxQ1YVE6I/s1600/kids-dancing-hook.gif

  • Stockhausen

    Good work Detective, but I do think you’re selling that bass player short by not devoting at least 4 paragraphs of open-mouthed, dumbfounded silence to him. I’m not sure how you would do that in writing form, but let’s get that in there, editors.

    • Howard Dean

      Agreed, dead composer friend. The bass on this album is miraculous.

    • Something like this ?: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      • Stockhausen

        Not jaw-dropped enough, but close.

        • ————___________________________________-

          • Stockhausen

            Now it’s too busy. But don’t make it less busy. Just make it feel less busy, with a hint of not blinking.

          • –__-

          • Guacamole Jim

            THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH

            FUCK

            FUCKING JACK BAUER

          • purr-fect

          • Mr. Bojangles

            is that after I scratched your left eye out?

    • truth / 10.
      bass is one of those instruments i know least about… so it would have just been a thousand links to Meghan Trainor.

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        I hate Meghan Trainor. She’s as bad as Wang Chung and worse than Culture Club.

        • I think you secretly like Wang Chung

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I despise them! Having them stuck in my head for weeks made me hate them.

          • Sure

          • KJM

            He’s gonna have fun tonight.
            He’s gonna Wang Chung tonight.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            No I’m not. I’m listening to Hawthorne Heights right now and thinking about going to their show at Webster Hall.

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            Listen to the My Dick version. That’ll cure you because laughter is the best medicine

          • so The Adventures of Ford Fairlane isn’t an easy bite to chew. BUT i’m going to finish it! and i’m going to review it.

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            Yeah I get that. It’s one of those “you had to be there man” type of movies. It was a massive box office flop too

        • i’d like to Wang Meghan’s Chung, if you catch my drift…

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Jimmy plz!

          • Awww, you’re making me miss Death/Tapir/MA

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Where did he go?

          • Probably to masturbate to me.

      • Stockhausen

        I had to look up who that was, and you have killed a small part of me.

        • for a while, every time somebody used the words “dat bass” in an article, the glorious MODs would link to that video.

          • Guacamole Jim

            I had the honour of introducing our own Link “HoboHipz” Leonheart to Meghan Trainor.

          • I was always searching for dat and dose bass <3

          • Don’t forget all the “clever” parody versions that have popped up as well!

          • i think i’m better off not investigating this.
            who am i kidding, after a few beers tonight i’ll definitely investigate this…

        • Lacertilian

          You know when you go to google something unknown but it is immediately the first auto-match option after only a few characters, it’s probably terrible.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Goddamn I love me some good bass playin’ tones.

      Article idea: best bass tones in metal?

      • Stockhausen

        Oooh. I would on board for that.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          I can think of a few good ones off the top of my head

          • Scrimm

            I can think of one. All you need.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            True, but there are many, many more

      • should be community-driven <3.. I want to nominate Sean Malone so bad

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Totally, perhaps a RIFF OV THE WEEK-style article where we can all submit a suggestion

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      Bass players are just nerds who couldn’t handle 6 strings

      • Nordling Rites Ov MMXIV

        *Throws Häkä Virtanen at you, makes every guitarist cry.*

      • Ellipsis ov Flush

        Guitar players are just douches who couldn’t handle lead vocals

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          But they both get that wang dang sweet poon tang

          • Ellipsis ov Flush

            But the bass player has the pride and dignity of knowing… fuck it, you’re right.

  • Looks like I have a discography to explore tonight

    • first time hearing?? Mexcellent!

      • Correct!

        • oh man, i farmed SO many souls of demons to “Scream That Tore the Sky”!!!

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Curse you! Wang Chung won’t leave my head!

      • CT-12

        Nice writeup Jimmy err- Noah! This band sounds super interesting, gonna have to dig in further later tonight!

        • DO IT. they are masters of their craft. …and of course report back to us!

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    Off topic but curse you Jimmy! You got Wang Chung stuck in my head again!

    • now we can all Wang Chung tonight! ahahahahaaaa

      GL

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        I hate Wang Chung because of that song!

  • Nordling Rites Ov MMXIV

    I actually like the jazzy bits the best in this album.

    • were you big into the previous two releases? it was just a change that surprised me

      • Nordling Rites Ov MMXIV

        Actually I don’t think I had consciously listened to the other two. Only now am I cathing up with them. They’re good too. Handle the aggression and subtle beauty more gracefully. The difference between the two that is.

  • I just realized now that I have all of a sudden started liking some black metal my playlist is gonna get even bigger and my wallet smaller. First world problems

    • Wait until you learn to like all genres

      • That will never happen because djent

        • … most genres

        • MoshOff

          I can try to change your mind:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkA513Dheu4

          • I’ll save you some time. I hate that djent sound with a passion. It’s not about the bands, it’s about that fucking sound. Nails on a chalkboard for me

          • MoshOff

            Well that’s the band responsible for everything IMO and they’re head and shoulders above everyone else. If someday you feel the need to start, start there. I’d give it a shot, you never know.

          • The dudes vocals are so bizarre and I find them wildly appealing. My favs are Bland Street Bloom, Sanguine Seas of Bigotry, and Where Do We Fall

            GL

          • Great album!

            GL

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          What did you just say?

      • Commander Shepard

        Does that include reggae?

        • Janitor Jim Dvggan

          Yes it does.

    • BLVKKBEVRD

      Feel free to use my last.fm as a jumping off point for bm

      • I think I’m just gonna listen to stuff as I find it or as it’s mentioned on toh and then hit up discogs of stuff i dig. If I go looking for it I’ll never catch up on 2014

        • I have made this error. I now own a shit ton of black metal albums that I need to listen to. I still have about 100 albums from 2014 I need to listen to.

        • BLVKKBEVRD

          metal lyfe is hard, jack

          • Tis a life of suffering and void dwelling

        • Scrimm

          Arckanum dude. Also Blood of Kingu if you haven’t yet.

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      You think that’s bad? I have a desire to buy as many albums from second tier prog bands as possible thanks to Progarchives.

  • This is amazing!

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    1st vid–full vol
    2nd vid-15%vol
    3rd vid=muted
    (all at once)

    http://youtu.be/3DD3aSIbT6M

    http://youtu.be/vorz-CGgKPI

    http://youtu.be/jxyJ80vM5RU

  • Nordling Rites Ov MMXIV

    SorryIhafto:
    Some nice experimental/atmospheric BM with a nice warm bass tone. Brand New Song, I’d say uploaded less than 5min ago. From an upcoming album.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I_dnM-jLv3c

    • BLVKKBEVRD

      4/5 picards

      • 4/5 making out Picards.

        • Commander Shepard

          I kissed a girl and I liked it. Something tells me Picard doesn’t share my opinion.

          • BLVKKBEVRD

            I thought you were cool, shepard. #conanthemypussyhurtsking

          • Commander Shepard

            Ohhh lol I meant he doesn’t enjoy kissing the same sex hehe.

          • BLVKKBEVRD

            You dont fool me, shepard. Ive seen your renegade status.

        • BLVKKBEVRD

          NOT COOL BRO

  • Listening to a great work of ages on Bandcamp because I couldn’t find the first, tis good

  • JWG

    This is definitely one of those albums for which purchasing the digital version is just plain insufficient. I need to be able to feel it in more than just an auditory sense. Easily found once I had it confirmed as being on NWN though.

    http://www.nwnprod.com/?p=5049

    • this album on vinyl would SLAY. this album on vinyl, whilst on drugs would SLAAAAAAAAAAAAY

      • JWG

        I do wish it were on vinyl, despite not having the technology to play if I got it in that format.

        It would be a heck of an incentive to just get an LP player, though…

  • Simon PhoenixKing

    I knew that as soon as I saw this on the queue that it was your doing, McNulty.

    This album is fantastic though. Every time I re-listen to The Grand Equalizer I find some new element. These dudes really know how to layer their songs.

    And my favorite Stargazer songs are a tie between Conspirator’s Wind and Scribe to the Forsaken Mother.

    • oh crap, i don’t have their splits or demos. MUST OBTAIN
      Scribe is pretty trill tho

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    I’m listening to this cover of In The Air Tonight and it’s good.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPP7TWDn6CE

    • Commander Shepard

      No, it’s really not.

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        Yes it is.

        • Commander Shepard

          No, it’s really not

        • KJM

          The only “good” Phil Collins song, and that’s just because of the guitar work. Otherwise his music is a disease no matter who plays it.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y6qc-ZaqZ4

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    I’m thinking about putting myself in crippling debt to buy this car from France.

    http://www.artcurial.com/en/asp/fullCatalogue.asp?salelot=2651++++++56+&refno=10514399

  • BLVKKBEVRD

    Guise, I’m watching American Idol and writing up this article. #Dichotomy.

  • Guest
  • FeelTheDarkness
  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    regular men—like james dean,jack keroack,and blackbeard the pirate–

    in the face of “non regular” times—-and the vision of metal—

    forever

    3 lives ahead of the average soul—waiting for this time—with telekenesis—and their dogs
    —-
    1st vid -100%vol
    2nd vid-muted
    3rd vid muted
    all at once

    http://youtu.be/xMGZ8vgkt-U

    http://youtu.be/1c06xOF4uQ8

    http://youtu.be/7VG2aJyIFrA

  • Supreme Leader is supremely drunk (7 tall glasses of wine later), so here we go!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAihD-3Owys

    Loving Stargazer, BTW.

  • Max

    Is this the Australian Stargazer? Wow, I didn’t know they were still going! I used to go to school with the cousin of the drummer (or former drummer if somebody’s now in that position).

  • SYL!’s 7 Year Old Son

    I wonder if that’s my Mom on the cover? She pretty much fits my Dad’s description of her.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    Sounds just like a Stargazer.