Album Review: Starcaller – Perdition

Starcaller - Perdition - Metal Soliloquy

Starcaller is a three-piece death metal band from Mobile, Alabama. That was a quite surprising information to me because the music sounds and feels much more “Northern” than Alabama. Playing a melancholic and at times quite doomy blend of blackened melodic death metal, I would have expected this band to be from Scandinavia or Canada, but limiting genres to certain countries and vice versa is a stupid thing anyways.

That being said, lets get to the album itself. Perdition is the band’s full length debut, and a good one at that. With a playing time of 38 minutes, spanning over 8 tracks, the album has a very nice length. It is long enough for the band to let their ideas and visions unravel and work on the listener and it is short enough to at no point get boring or uninteresting. According to the band, the album is meant to take the listener on a journey through “tormented minds and cursed fates”, a journey from this realm into another, “capturing the dissonance of a soul placed in the wrong reality”. As interesting as this concept is, I am going to be honest with you and say straight out of the gate that I did not pay a lot of attention to the lyrics at all. Not that I am not interested, it’s just that I focused my attention on the music itself, which is what I do most of the time.

Starcaller - Metal Soliloquy

And in regards to the music, I can confidently say that Starcaller succeed in creating a more or less picture perfect melodic death metal album that will please every fan of the genre. The aforementioned black metal elements are not very prominent throughout the whole album, but there are some moments when they really shine and add a lot of character to the archetypical melo-death tropes. Two tracks where the black metal influence are more in the foreground are “Hungering Runes” and “Beyond the Blood and Ash”, two of my favourite tracks on the records.

 

There is nothing about this album that I really dislike: The music is very well-mixed, allowing every single instrument to shine. I especially love how thick and prominent the bass is in the mix and how it harmonizes with the drums. It gives a doomy vibe to the music and compliments the melodic guitar riffs and the fantastic harsh vocals perfectly. The songs are well-written, with most tracks staying below the five-minute mark, making for a well-paced and entertaining listen. The melodies are beautiful and “catchy” throughout the record. And despite being a little generic in its overall musical style, the melancholic atmosphere and the black metal elements are two things that make Starcaller stand out from their peers.

Now that I think about it, the only thing I’d criticize about Perdition is that it could do with even a little more of that certain “something”. You can already see a lot of identity in these songs, but the band clearly has the potential to get even more interesting and stylistically unique on future releases. I am definitely looking forward to it, because this album is a mighty fine debut.


Perdition was released on March 8th and is available at Bandcamp.

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Album Review: Utstøtt – Járnviðr

Utstott - Jarnvidr - Review at Metal Soliloquy

Oregon-based one man project Utstøtt arrived to the black metal underground in 2013 with the release of his four-track EP Legender Odin. Playing a synth-laden breed of epic, melodic black metal, Utstøtt didn’t bring anything entirely new to the table with the EP, but Navnløs, the man behind the project, pulled off the Summoning and Windir inspired style of black metal quite perfectly and further proved his talents with his debut LP Hjørungavågr in 2015. Now, three years later, Utstøtt, now comprised of two members, Navnløs and Stormning, is back with a second full length album, named after the mythological iron-forest Járnviðr.

From the cover artwork alone you can tell that this album is a little different from his first two releases. Instead of majestic mountains and lakes, the painting “Winter” by Ivan Shishkin adorns the cover. We see a snow covered forest giving off a cold, darker vibe. And indeed the album sounds quite a bit colder and darker than Hjørungavågr.

Utstott - Metal SoliloquyThe album has a playing time of 66 minutes, spanning over six songs, one of which is a fantastic and rather creative cover of Burzum’s legendary song “Dunkelheit”. Each song on the album is its own beast with its own feel and story, but all of them work together towards an overarching cold and dark atmosphere, evoking images of ancient forests and snow covered landscapes.

The compositions on Járnviðr are as grand and epic as those on the band’s previous albums, but they are much more traditional and visceral at the same time. If Hjørungavågr was the musical equivalent to a battle between two armies, Járnviðr represents a one-on-one combat. The production is sharp and clear, adding to the harshness of the riffs and vocals. Stylistically sitting somewhere between atmospheric and melodic black metal with pagan/folk influences, the compositions on this album are written and build around melodic riffs, but focused on the atmosphere they evoke rather than the melodies themselves. It’s an approach more similar to bands like Burzum or Drudkh than, say, Vindland or Windir.


Not only are the riffs on this album freaking righteous, there are enough additional musical elements, like atmospheric synth-driven sections, amazing guitar solos and beautiful acoustic portions,  incorporated into the compositions to keep the album interesting and entertaining throughout its duration.

As a whole, Járnviðr is an amazing black metal album, that combines melody, riffs, atmosphere, beauty and harshness into an intriguing, captivating and epic package. One of my favorite black metal albums of the year so far.


Járnviðr was self-released October 15th and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

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