The track “Stellar Master Elite” by Thorns was one that had a great impact on me when I first heard it on Moonfog 2000. Here was a track that combined spiky frozen riffs with an industrialized tempo and those vocals! Loved it! Snorre Ruch knew what buttons to push whatever his involvement in heinous acts and controversy. To name your band after this track is pretty bold and could have led to red faced embarrassment all round. Thankfully these Teutonic sonic tribesmen have delivered the goods for the third time. Pacing their albums every two years since their debut in 2011 the now four piece (M.S ,D.F, T.N. and E.K – like a metal version of Countdown) appear to have honed their skills.
This is not Thorns light or Kvlt plagiarism. Stellar Master Elite mange to evoke the feel of the bleak void of Mr Ruch whilst crowbarring in massive riffs for fun. Opener “Transmission :Disruption” blasts us into space with a martial drum beat . This is more Iron Sky than Gravity. The keys have a lovely retro sound which ushers in another cinematic reference of McCarthy era sci-fi paranoia. The vocals on this track are deep and hoarse and not easy to decipher. Lovely!
“Desperate Grandeur” floats into more traditional raspy BM territory alongside a spiky riff atop an atonal drone. This feels a little disjointed to me and lacks some groove, something that “Buried in Oblivion” certainly has. It opens with a doomy intro before speeding up into something a lot more frosty almost Satyricon sounding.
At the centre of the album lies “Perdition Time Loop” . Whilst not the longest of the 9 tracks on offer here (that accolade goes to the 15 minute title track “Eternalism” ) it is the core of this collection. Tribal drums and synths lead the way before a most hypnotic and chant like vocal begins. This track has a very Gothic feel and builds in very minimalist layers never reaching a crescendo and never reaching an endpoint. When the track fades at the end it is like a comet that has passed the listener just leaving a faint trail. There is a feeling that somewhere it is still playing on its loop.
“Hologram Temple” drops some huge doomy riffs dominating the space left by its predecessor like the star destroyer at the beginning of a certain seminal 70’s space opera. Stellar Master Elite do not make Black Metal for orange squeezers. This is music for spacemen and women, for those that like some prog with their captain’s log and a space-walk rather than a crabwalk.
“The First Principle” feels like speed metal after the track before. This is more traditional second wave Black Metal fare and would sit nicely on the aforementioned Moonfog comp from yesteryear. EK’s vocals are strong and nasty and the riff sounds like it has been created by a machine – in a good way!
The mammoth title track looms large at the tail end of this collection. It is with some trepidation that I approach it. Bloody coward! This is an effective mix of the styles sampled elsewhere on the album. A smidge of tribal drums here, a deep hoarse vocal there, some rasping a choppy riff and some slow spaced out wiggy sections. This track is like an album of its own . I would suggest giving this a listen first. If you dig it then you will certainly love the remainder.
SME bid the listener farewell with “Downfall” an ambient instrumental which brings back some of the vintage sci-fi feel offered earlier. Not what I am usually looking for in a final track but bookends this handsomely.
Eternalism is not an album to blast while slogging it down the M6 or to put on before you prepare for an evening out on the razz. However , get some big old headphones a comfy chair or better a bed and lose yourself to the void for an hour or two.
(6.6/10 Matt Mason)