Grim Observations: Stellar Master Elite – III: The Psychospherical Chapter (2015)

Right Off the heels of 2013’s II: Destructive Interference Generator, we have German black/doom/industrial metallers Stellar Master Elite returning with a brand new and far different album than was released previously. As with every offering, I feel there is something different to behold and Eternalism is no different. In fact, the whole thing starts out very different than it’s electronic-laden precursor with the thick doom/death dirge of “Transmission Disruption.” Now this one was actually a bit tough for me to get into at first and I wouldn’t have penned it as a Stellar Master Elite track if I hadn’t been told prior to the listen. But when “Desperate Grandeur” comes in with it’s tremolos and black metal scowl (though death grunts still appear) as well as those electronic tinkerings that we’d expect from them. Additionally, Ben from Sonic Reign is nowhere to be found on this release as the band have found an all-new and since undiscovered frontman to helm these scowls of which I mention. I know little more than the fact that he uses the initials E.K and truly proves his worth on the album, along with Marco who gives us our money’s worth in gravel as he pounds the kit just as well as he ever has. Dave handles the guitars, bass and programming with a certain finesse that lends to a truly terrifying soundscape in “Buried In Oblivion” (7:39) of which fans of dreary death/doom with slightly blackened elements (just to make what already sounds dark even darker)will certainly revel in, offering just the sort of grim nature that we here have always appreciated at The Grim Tower.

But things begin to change even more with the unexpected darkwave utterance that is “Perdition Time Loop” (9:34) which has a little bit of Dead Can Dance influence, yet seems to take on a slightly creepier vibe. I suppose I could connect it more to Merciful Nuns at first, with the dreadfully deep Dracula-esque vocal approach not unfamiliar to that of Francisco Ribeiro of Moonspell or the dear departed Peter Steele of Type O Negative. However, that segues into something that I feel truly explodes with a harsh vocal section that culminates in a potent performance that makes my whole job worth it. This is the kind of awesomeness that I expect to find while I’m digging through endless promos and it ultimately winds up being one of the best songs I’ve ever heard from an already fantastic band. “Hologram Temple” (8:46) brings us roaring back into familiar territory with thunderous bass riffs, grueling death vocals and… electronic atmosphere. Yes, it’s not something all that common for doom, but it’s fantastic to hear such a spacey style incorporated into it as it does something that I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before in the genre. Now I’m quite sure synths have been used in doom acts and I’ve covered several of those; but never have I heard the electronic atmospheres and synths working together in such a way that leaves it captivating. In a sense, even if we took out all the samples, voice clips and synth lines, we would still have a tremendously potent doom track in the midst of it all. To me, that says something about the power of Stellar Master Elite. There’s no one out there quite like them. Then get this, the record flips completely into Satyricon friendly vibes with “The First Principle” (3:57) which sounds just like something we’d hear on Volcano or Now, Diabolical. Once again, I’m quite pleased by this as it’s definitely the kind of thing I would have expected and will certainly knock the critics to the floor. I can just see them now, scrambling about as they try to find a working genre tag for a monster that simply refuses to be caged into one single genre. This ladies and gentlemen, is how you make music. “Mark Of The Beast” (2:26) seems to delve even deeper into experimental territory as it delves into static, Gothic organ samples and vocal utterances that sound underwater. Maybe it’s a little too much, but it keeps the sound fresh. The album’s title track comes directly after that, mixing in the black metal elements with the doom/death in a way that I also haven’t heard before (seriously, how many bands do you know who’ve turned a black n’ roller into a atmospheric death metal dirge?) and certainly can’t recall hearing from any other band. There’s even some classic Swedish death metal love given to the piece, which makes this listen all the more better. It ends with a small instrumental in “Downfall” (2:43) which does contain some memorable guitar leads that you might not expect at first and seems a worthy note to finish out with.

When all is said and done, I’m definitely pleased with the work done here on Eternalism, even though the band’s prior record will still hold a special place for me as being one of the best electronic black metal outputs I’ve ever heard. That being said, “Perdition Time Loop” is still one of the single best tracks I’ve heard all year as far as music in general is concerned, and that once again; should say something. Stellar Master Elite is one of those bands that more people should know about and it’s sad to see that they still haven’t gotten the respect they deserve. Perhaps this groundbreaking release will change all that. The Grim Tower highly recommends III: Eternalism: The Psychospherical Chapter and I’m sure you’ll find my words merited once you’ve heard the disc yourself. As a matter of fact, you can do that right now, with this wonderful stream link from Zero Tolerance.

Listen To Eternalism here:

(9 Tracks, 62:00)


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