Review: Stellar Master Elite – ‘III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter’

A band bearing the same name as a track by the legendary Thorns is guaranteed to attract my attention, however, sound-wise the German Black/Doom quartet Stellar Master Elite, referred to individually only by their initials, have gone way beyond, and surpassed my expectations with their latest album. It’s atmospheric and sonic, yet still dark, with a mesmerizing mix of Black Metal and crushing Doom Metal, complete with swirling sonic, but ambient drones, and sound bites that add a very modern innovative feel, yet still holding true to classic Black Metal… the dominant factor, at it’s very heart.

‘III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter’ is the third album of the “sequence”, following 2012’s ‘I’, and 2013’s ‘II: Destructive Interference Generator’. Here the inspiration is drawn from “The cold dark realm that is the astral void, drawing from the cosmic beauty that has inspired man before and will, continue to do so” and in the words of the band it; “Forces us to question our place on earth, and the essence of time itself.”

The album is a listening journey. Nine tracks spanning just over an hour, but the tracks flow together in such a way that your mind becomes lost within the hypnotic folds of the sound, It’s such an intriguing listen. The band describe it as; “A harsh reflection of man’s own relationship with the sky above and the passage of ages”, but given that, it’s a surprisingly easy listen, and is a pioneering step forward for German Black Metal. The album also features the guest talents of Empyrium’s Schwadorf on vocals and percussion, and throat singing from Shahaf Ostfeld from Visceral Trail.

I have no favourites amongst these tracks. They can all stand alone on their own merits, and whilst there is that subtle signature to the sound that binds them, they are also very different and varied, which is what makes this album such an intriguing and interesting listen end to end. Beginning with ‘Transmission: Disruption’, which features Shahaf Ostfeld‘s throat singing, and is a track which unfolds in the most majestic of manners, with sonic waves and dark stately riffs, the pace and intensity rising and falling in waves.

Staying with the sonic keyboard work, here giving a decidedly sci-fi feel,‘Desperate Grandeur’ has a more pummelling aspect to the riffs, alongside black, vitriolic vocals, so the overall feel is a very sharp and angular. It also has the addition of spoken sound bites that are contextual, but not excessive .

‘Buried in Oblivion’ starts bleak and dark, with more spoken sound bites panning out into a very classic and pure Black Metal sound that’s dark and haunting, particularly the second half as the keyboards become more prominent .

Vocals and percussion on ‘Perdition Time Loop’ are covered by Empyrium’s Schwadorf, where a mix of tribal drums and ambient keyboards are completed by very haunting clean vocals, that are subtly sinister, with a very hypnotic build towards the midpoint, after which there are some harsher vocals, all combining as a very different and interesting track.

Mixing things up even further with the next track, ‘Hologram Temple’. This is a sonic edged, blackened Doom offering of crushing proportions, with ground-shaking vocals to match. In keeping with the large variety of elements encompassed within this broad-spectrum, challenging album, there is also an impressively broad range of vocal styles, undoubtedly helped by the well-chosen choice of guests.

‘The First Principle’ totally took me by surprise, after the doom-heavy mood of its predecessor, with it’s up-tempo groove, and vitriolic vocals that snarl at you through the riffs.

The drums, percussion, and vocals on ‘Mark Of The Beast’ are covered by M.S. here. Dirty riffs, sonic elements and blood-curdling guttural vocals are in abundance on this short sharp track.

Slightly unusual drum rhythms accompany the ripping riffs that open ‘Eternalism’, an epically proportioned track of almost fifteen minutes length, that is a mass of pounding, blackened riffs, and crisp direction changes, with a sonic overlay that becomes very pronounced in the second half and great vocals that come in as a deep growl and a higher, vitriolic hiss.

Final offering ‘Downfall’ is an instrumental outro that is a mix of atmospheric keyboards and pulsating drum beats overlaid with shrill haunting guitars.

‘III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter’ was written and recorded at Studio Rostfabrik by D.F. and M.S. The drums were recorded at Studio E by M. S., and vocals recorded at Sonic Room (by Sebastian Schneider) where the whole album was mixed. The cover art is by Paulo Girardi. The album is available from Essential Purification Records now as CD, cassette or Vinyl. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Review: Jools Green

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