Stargazer

A Great Work of Ages

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This Australian trio plays blackened death metal with some progressive flourishes. Frontman Denny Blake combines a guttural, bordering-on-insane vocal delivery with buzzing wasp-like guitars that erupt into piercing, shredtastic solo outbursts. Bassist Damon Good is prominent in the mix, as one would expect from a power trio, and he plays a lot of notes; his work here is very much reminiscent of old-school virtuosos like Atheist's Roger Patterson or, particularly, Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus). The band's riffs don't have the inhuman, mechanistic precision of modern death metal. They're very much operating in an older tradition, barreling downhill at 100 miles an hour and never letting the intricacy of their melodies get in the way of overall momentum. Blake doubles his guitar, playing with and against himself and allowing that much more room for Good to provide a countermelody rather than a mere foundation. There are moments, such as the final minutes of "Passing Stone -- Into the Greatest Sun," where this feels more like a metal version of the jazz-rock fusion Trio of Doom, a short-lived '70s group featuring guitarist John McLaughlin, bassist Jaco Pastorius, and drummer Tony Williams. It has the same intensity, the same feeling that all the group's members are communicating simultaneously as three individuals and as a unit. That's the goal, but many bands fall short of it. Stargazer achieve it.

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