Strikes the Earth

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AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush

The biggest misfortune about Deathstar is that there is so little music documenting the band. Formed in the college town of Chico, CA, Ken Lovgren, Kelly Bauman, and James Rizzuto released just one 10" recording (self-titled) and this five-song CD EP before disbanding. While Lovgren joined Ant Farm, and Bauman's talent as a songwriter makes the prospects of any future projects enticing, the unique gifts of this trio are sorely missed. Deathstar dives into their songs with unrelenting energy from the word go. "Shut Down" begins with Rizzuto's drum salute, quickly followed by Bauman's guitar. Lovgren sets the spark to a bassline that drives the song while carrying a melody of its own. The song cuts to negative images of incoherent vocals and primitive drum clatter, as if fighting against itself, and ends after a race to its conclusion. At first, making sense of these songs can seem daunting. Deathstar (and Bauman's electrifying guitar) packs more melodies and changes than you'd think they could handle. At times the sound is almost claustrophobic, yet Rizzuto -- an impressive force on his kit -- is always able to match it and propel it forward. When the trio does downshift, they catch their breath with sections of gorgeous harmony singing by Bauman and Lovgren. The amazing thing is that Deathstar (a relatively young group at the time) managed to translate their energy onto tape so effortlessly. On Strikes the Earth, they match ambitious production with exceptional songcraft and extremely tight ensemble playing. So many new bands enter a studio unprepared, with one or more of these elements lacking. Deathstar could hardly have been more prepared: and they had only begun.

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