"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Black Yet Full Of Stars - "Black Yet Full Of Stars" (CD)

Black Yet Full Of Stars - "Black Yet Full Of Stars" CD cover image

"Black Yet Full Of Stars" track listing:

1. Lightborn
2. Golden Child
3. Face To Face
4. A Boy In Chains
5. Lords Of Silence
6. Every Great Man’s Ghost
7. The Last Against The Wolves
8. Tempesta

Reviewed by on November 9, 2016

"Black Yet Full of Stars has all the tools that most bands with decades more experience haven’t yet attained. The band just needs to add that one ingredient that would prevent being labelled: 'Great Yet Lack of Choruses.'"

As album marketing campaigns go, Black Yet Full of Stars had the perfect set up: a new power/progressive metal band that would bring theatrics to the subgenre. The band was shrouded in mystery and the brief teaser clips issued along the way were intriguing, interesting… piquing the interest with a desire for more. The self-titled album generated extraordinarily high expectations – it appeared riff ready and packed power. It was time for the payoff and what the band delivered paralleled the marketing campaign perfectly: an album filled with brilliant set ups, feverish and quite often dazzling pitches of emotion, but missing the big payoff of choruses.

First off, there is so much great about this debut that makes it worth a purchase. Every single song generates an air of excitement and interest to see what lies around each corner. Carlo Fini and Marco Caiterzi’s riffs are excellent and beefy, the orchestration (championed by Dini’s keyboards) is tastefully and artfully placed and vocalist David Scott McBee’s voice is akin to the great Henning Basse. Everything you want in a power/progressive band is there in spades!

Every song builds with brilliant emotion and melodic thunder. The one problem: just when you are expecting (and demanding) that grand payoff – a big chorus – the songs devolve back to the buildup. Whoa, the setup itself was the peak? I never saw that coming. Most of the choruses on the debut amount to decent bridges.

To illustrate this point, take the song “A Boy in Chains.” It has a perfect slow cinematic build up – McBee wraps the listener into this story of the boy. You really get pulled into the slow build and intrigue nicely pulled together by McBee’s softer Dio-esque delivery. Gleefully, this riff blasts forth with exciting orchestration channeling wondrous melody. Then, like a power outage the plug is pulled in favor of another soft verse. As song structure goes, it is not so uncommon – Running Wild made a career out of “verse, verse, bridge, chorus.” I applaud the band for mixing it up and keeping the listener guessing. However, just when you think that riff is coming back a second time at the cymbal crash at 2:08….it gets yanked in favor of a meandering refrain/chorus. Eventually, the riff does return a full minute later. Awkwardly, the lack of an overpowering chorus tying the song together leaves that riff as the central point of interest. This isn’t the only example, as the album is stacked with the similar instances (see “Every Great Man’s Ghost”).

Where does it all actually come together? Well, "Lightborn" sets the stage as the opener and generates a brilliant expectation for the album: speedy riffs, well placed orchestration and McBee’s initial introduction is bold and strong. The chorus here is good, but not spectacular as the buildup commands. "Golden Child" has all the same intrigue with the album’s strongest chorus to boot. However, the strongest track here is "Tempesta," a thunderous dramatic masterpiece and the anchor of this debut. Again, it lacks a giant over the top chorus, but the excitement level overcomes the obstacle.

None of this diminishes the incredibly hard work put into this debut. The band presents an exciting blend of two subgenres that are very dear to your author’s heart and is right on the cusp of being one of the elite acts (no small feat for virtual unknowns). The musicianship is excellent, the songwriting is right there and the production is very good. Black Yet Full of Stars has all the tools that most bands with decades more experience haven’t yet attained. The band just needs to add that one ingredient that would prevent being labeled: “Great Yet Lack of Choruses.”

Highs: All the talent and musicianship is here; dramatic, cinematic, dazzling well orchestrated power/progressive metal.

Lows: The build up in each song is incredible, but the lack of that big choruses payoff is a huge distraction.

Bottom line: Wonderful cinematic build up, but lacks that big chorus payoff each song deserves.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)