2014 withheld one of its prized musical paragons up until the final moments of this solar cycle. As the curtains begin to close on a year of exceptional underground releases across the board, another has recently ascended from Adelaide, Australia. Noted as one of the country’s most distinctive, technical death metal groups with an avant-garde and black metal co-mixture, StarGazer are reaching their twentieth year as an active band. A Merging to the Boundless, which is just their third full-length album, has left a mark of magnitude in their evolutionary growth, as well as a possible threshold for new beginnings. Seeing as frontman and vocalist Damon “The Great Righteous Destroyer” Good is also involved in funeral doom metal assembly Mournful Congregation–as well as guitarist Denny “The Serpent Inquisitor” Blake who is a part of Australia’s infamous “pirate metal” themed black-death group, Cauldron Black Ram–it is clear that these gentlemen are heavily dedicated to their various musical outlets and provide the appropriate time, focus, and nourishment for each one. A Merging to the Boundless demonstrates a range of technical, harmonious and speed-driven characteristics that all fuse together in extremes which can be heard within the first thirty seconds of the album’s memorable opener, “Black Gammon.”
In comparison to their first full-length release in 2005, The Scream that Tore the Sky, the overall production quality is much more solid. Its wide-ranging attributes as a death metal release remain just as unparalleled as they are unorthodox, but StarGazer tastefully makes this work. The vocals shift between expected barbaric savagery and tranquil hymns of a solemn nature, ranging alongside the racing, instrumental fluxes which parallel them. The adrenaline rush starts off in the beginning hook lines of “Black Gammon” and transmutes between mountain ranges of sound into the melancholic, high-strung opening to “An Earth Rides in its Endless Carousel,” which also noticeably holds a resemblance to the mid-instrumental track heard on Mournful Congregation’s The June Frost.
In tracks such as “Old Tea,” there is a distinctive vocal style emanating that is similar to what is heard on Ved Buens Ende‘s Written in Waters–a classic avant-garde/black metal album which was one of the first underground black metal releases notorious for integrating both genres into a fascinating (and successful) formula. “Old Tea” is straight-forward in its approach and evolves into one of the heaviest tracks on A Merging to the Boundless while simultaneously being submerged into a dysphoric abyss. “The Grand Equalizer” is another personal highlight which admittedly would have had me sold on its own if this were a one-track release; it is the lengthiest track on the album (surpassing eleven minutes) and immeasurable in both depth and hypnotic grace. This isn’t exactly the choice of words one would expect to read on a review of an album like A Merging to the Boundless; nevertheless, it is the innovative milestone implanted in the middle of the album and could not have been placed more appropriately. My most favorable aspect of “The Grand Equalizer,” however, remains towards the final two minutes which, overall, resembles the sound of traditional heavy metal in combination with StarGazer’s own signature style. Structurally, A Merging to the Boundless strays away from the generic and has emerged from its shell from years of the band’s continuous progression–its results are the quintessence of a well-distinguished delivery. It is just as assimilating as it is assaulting.
01) Black Gammon
02) Old Tea
03) An Earth Rides its Endless Carousel
04) A Merging to the Boundless
05) The Grand Equalizer
06) Ride the Everglade of Reogniroro
07) Incense and Aeolian Chaos