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Stellar Master Elite - "III: Eternalism - The Psychospherical Chapter" (CD)

Stellar Master Elite - "III: Eternalism - The Psychospherical Chapter" CD cover image

"III: Eternalism - The Psychospherical Chapter" track listing:

1. Transmission: Disruption
2. Desperate Grandeur
3. Buried in Oblivion
4. Perdition Time Loop
5. Hologram Temple
6. The First Principle
7. Mark of the Beast
8. Eternalism
9. Downfall

Reviewed by on December 7, 2015

"In theory “III: Eternalism” should be something I'd love, since it's avant-garde black metal that mixes in various opposing forces, but this one just falls a bit short in the overall execution."

If you've been following my reviews for any length of time, you should have guessed by now that I dig metal that experiments and doesn't stick to the same old formula. Doing the exact same thing you did in the last album is a pretty sure way to get a hearty “meh” straight from this metal lover, as is sticking to the party line and not bothering to try anything outside the boundaries of your specific sub-genre. So naturally, my interest was piqued when I discovered Stellar Master Elite, with its fusing of black metal and other styles all wrapped up in a cosmic atmosphere.

With the possible exception of the massive journey that is the 15 minute title track, “III: Eternalism - The Psychospherical Chapter” offers up its best material early with the form-meets-function track “Transmission: Disruption.” Giving you exactly what the title implies, the song has an industrial build up of spacey sounds giving the impression of a transmission arriving from space but with a black metal bent of course.

Press releases refer to the album as a black/doom fusion, although really the “doom” part is primarily just in the speed, which often dips into funereal doom territory for the heavier parts. Although there are some exceptions in this eclectic album, most of the time when the metal is in full force its moving at a slowly plodding speed. That works well in places, but in others makes the tracks drag significantly as the repetition sets in.

“Perdition Time Loop” for instance has a really interesting tone with the keyboards (almost like a darker version of something you'd hear on “The Neverending Story”), and the bongos and clean vocals coming out of nowhere will keep avant-garde fans happy, but the song becomes an exercise in patience when 10 minutes pass and there's still nothing heavy happening.

The following track “Hologram Temple” again focuses on the ambiance for the first 1:45, with intermittent heartbeat tapping along with radio squelches and odd sounds, resulting in an atmosphere that would fit right on a horror video game, but this time the metal does actually show up. True Detective fans (of the awesome first season, not the poor facsimile that was the second season) will also recognize Rust Cohle in the background discussing the pointlessness of human existence.

Following that nine minute monster you get oddball tracks like “Mark of the Beast,” a brief two minute offering with hyper distorted guitars and oddly filtered vocals. While carrying the discordant idea forward, it's different enough from the surrounding material that it doesn't really seem to fit on the album.

In theory “III: Eternalism” should be something I'd love, since it's avant-garde black metal that mixes in various opposing forces, but this one just falls a bit short in the overall execution. Of course there's plenty of positives here, like the strong bass presence, spaced out oddity, and handful of tempo changes. On the other hand the album feels a bit restrained, like it should be played slightly faster or heavier, and there's some overarching theme that's missing and could really tie it all together. That being said, there's appeal here if you like weird black metal that goes in different directions, from Lychgate to Aborym.

Highs: Lots of interesting sounds for fans of avant-garde black metal.

Lows: The plodding pace doesn't work in the album's favor, the vocals could be higher in the mix, and some of the experimentation doesn't work out.

Bottom line: A new take on black metal mixed with a cosmic atmosphere and delivered with a funeral doom's pacing.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)