Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Stellar Death’s debut album is an adventure in instrumental space prog that winds through disparate corners of the universe to coalesce in a fascinating unified semblance.

Matt Kozar and Scott Loose are the duo Stellar Death, playing instrumental music that lands a heavy blow. They have worked together for many years in the band Brave, and decided to branch out with this new project in order to shed any constraints on form. Both are guitarist and play keys, with Loose minding the percussion. There are eight pieces on the album, most in a fairly long design.

The opening song is a seven minute outline titled “The Astronomer.” Throughout its course, many of the elements and atoms that combine in the musical creation of the set are first introduced, including mesmerizing ambient sequences and forceful guitar movements. “Endless” is filled with sadness the way that Frank Zappa’s “Watermelon In Easter Hay” is, and that is meant to be a high compliment. Its companion piece, “Betelgeuse,” moves on from trauma and morning, turning a corner and picking up power. Heavier guitars and more rambunctious percussion returns in “Binary Collapse” to close side one.

On the back four, solitude is a reinforcing theme and a channel for momentous contemplation. “Everywhere and Nowhere” has quite dramatic moments, while “Critical Mass” presents the most tense passages in the eight minute leg. Stellar Death winds it down with “Afterglow,” offering up a spell of reflection and meditation. While this album will appeal perhaps most to the ambient crowd as it is on the less technical side of prog, anyone who likes instrumental rock will find a confrère here. Recommended.

The street date for Fragments Of Light is January 8th. Direct business is at Bandcamp for the download. Three songs are available now and you can listen to them instantly if you preorder the album.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://stellardeath.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-of-light

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/stellardeathdc

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Katla, Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur review (Prophecy Productions 2020)

The new album from Katla is Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur, and it lives up to the promise of the band’s namesake.

In their follow-up to the 2017 album Móðurástin, Iceland’s Katla continues the well-established sound of the former and extends their musical scope like a growing network of fumaroles. While that first album pushed you down with a glacial weight, the new one is darker, even heavier.

The band is Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason interacting together in a musical partnership that brings the boiling black blood of the earth to the surface. The music is in the Doom universe, nearing Funeral Doom sometimes with many ambient passages. There are also more active guitar solos than you would typically find in Doom albums, a key feature that sets this music apart.

The album’s title Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur translates to All This Damned Darkness, according to the press release, and you feel that right away. “Ást orðum ofar” opens the album with a menacing soundscape that could be a soundtrack for a particularly terrifying scene in an Ari Aster film where the violence and horror happen in slow motion and the voices of the constituents are silent while this music plays on. “Villuljos” is next and presents that first strong example of guitar solos I admire so much in this music. Beyond that, the composition of the piece is unusual in its pace changing and surprising turns.

The vocals are engaging, sometimes presented in harmony, and occasionally bursting forth. As I don’t speak the language, I hear the voices entirely as another instrument and therefore the tone and emotion are the primary impressions I receive from them when listening. In “Salarsvefn” there are strong Death Metal presentations, and in other songs, like “Hvitamyrkur,” you hear a beautiful melancholy guitar. Throughout the feeling is mystical and dark, but within the music is deliciously variegated. The title track is twelve minutes of solemn, dire music that sets up the fourteen minute closer, “Svartnaetti.” There is so much here to explore and experience that you want to hear it undistracted so you do not miss anything. Katla’s new album is a rich, dark discovery. Recommended.

Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur will see its full release this Friday, November 13th from Prophecy Productions and available through Bandcamp. There is also a deluxe version (Luxus) that has additional music. You can order physical copies through the Big Cartel link below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://katlaiceland.bandcamp.com/

Big Cartel store, https://katlaband.bigcartel.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/katla.band

Label, https://us.prophecy.de/artists/katla/

Katla, Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur review (Prophecy Productions 2020)