StarGazer- A Merging to the Boundless

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, January 10, 2015

StarGazer’s newest full length A Merging to the Boundless snuck out at the beginning of December, likely missing the cutoff for quite a few Best of 2014 lists. But had this not been the case I suspect that you would have been hearing about the release on just about every metal website out there, as this is one of those records that makes an incredibly strong first impression and will likely keep listeners coming back for more for quite some time. It not only has the type of technical display and musicianship that fans of technical/progressive death metal look for, but plenty of staying power and additional stylistic influences that put StarGazer in their own category.

One of the main reasons that A Merging to the Boundless has been able to keep such a tight grip on me over the past week or two has been to the sheer amount of ground the instrumentalists are able to cover in less than 40 minutes. While there are a lot of familiar death metal elements at the core of what they have to offer, StarGazer takes it in a different direction on each track. Opener “Black Gammon” has twisting and turning guitar work that has a bit of a black/thrash meets old-school death metal feel, while other songs dial up the black metal and progressive/technical death metal feel. There are even a few guitar and bass riffs that have a straight up heavy metal vibe, and the way that the band is able to seamlessly jump between all of these different stylistic elements, often during the same song, makes them all the more enticing. There isn’t a single wasted moment, and each twist and turn further draws the listener in to the entrancing atmosphere. The production does a great job of making each instrument audible, and this might be one of the best bass recordings I’ve heard on a metal record recently as the bass work grabs your attention without overpowering everything else. StarGazer’s able to channel some of the thicker, bottom heavy death metal of old while also heading into melodic territory that will take you to an entirely different world. It’s this combination of technical wizardry and soaring atmospheric moments that makes A Merging to the Boundless stand above so many other metal releases in recent memory, and it’s clear the band has taken things to an entirely different level.

The instrumental work may have been what first caught my attention, that doesn’t mean that the vocals are merely a throwaway element as they are able to provide quite a bit of variation as well. Right from the start the vocals come out with the maximum level of intensity, offering a raspier screaming style that suits the material perfectly. But the pitch doesn’t stick with this style for too long, as there are also deeper growls and some clean singing on “Old Tea” and “The Grand Equalizer.” StarGazer is able to use this variation to their advantage, as the vocals have that same unpredictability and constant shifting as the instrumentals. While the performance as a whole is intense from beginning to end, my favorite moment would have to be on “An Earth Rides Its Endless Carous.” After a melodic guitar intro, the instrumentals build until the vocals come in with a very deep, powerful growl that gives me chills each time I hear it.

While there may have been a lengthy gap between each of StarGazer’s full length efforts, they only seem to get better with each recording. A Merging to the Boundless takes the notion of progressive death metal and injects some different ideas into it, resulting in an album that touches upon just about every variant of extreme metal without losing focus. The cleaner production values allow each instrument and vocal style equal opportunity to grab your attention, and the compositions have just the right balance between impressive technical ability and memorable hooks. Nuclear War Now! may have released this one near the end of the year, but don’t let it go under your radar as StarGazer’s latest is an incredible experience.

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