Released by: Metal Blade Records
Release date: 29 January 2016
Genre: Thrash Metal/Black Metal
Gerrit – Vocals
Marius – Guitar
Chris – Guitar
David – Bass
Sören – Drums
02. When Milk Runs Dry
04. Count to Ten
05. The Hunger
06. White Eyes
07. Shaman’s Dance
08. Silence and Sound
These German Black/Thrash Metallers have come a long way since 2009’s Satan’s Boundaries Unchained. News spread during the summer when the band announced recording their third release, Starless, a four-year follow-up from 2012’s Endzeit Metropolis. After signing with Metal Blade Records, one would assume that it would heighten their original Black-Thrash Metal sound. However, this was not the case. Stylistically moved into a defined Atmospheric blend, where one could consider it Post-Metal. In addition to the musical shift in Starless, Ketzer also wanted to explore theories of “religion vs. reality,” where they explained, “Centuries ago, humankind looked up into the star-filled night skies, questioning the universe and their lives within it. In order to find answers, mythology was born. But religion and myths cannot connect to the world we live in today. They have blinded the night skies – hence, we have become ‘starless’.” This announcement peaked my curiosity as I have favored albums that circle concepts and themes. It took risks where a deeper exploration of the mind is released, questioning life, reality, and steering away from organized blueprints.
The album launches with the titled track “Starless,” with an initial Joy Division-esque opening until the vocals hit releasing more of an eerie atmospheric taste. As the song progresses, it kept me engaged with the use of extreme in a softer shell, where guitar riffs alone distilled fear of the inevitable. Haunting me even further with “When Milk Runs Dry,” from it’s dramatic acoustic guitar riffing introduction. The instrumentals stand out the most up until the bitter ending. “Godface” comes in with an impressive bass line until it escalates to a speedy and chanting fun track. Surprisingly enough, I heard a bit of Punk Rock influence, which was most visible with the background cheers reminding me of an old rancid tune. Soaring into a sea of blackness with “Count to Ten,” had cutthroat raging vocals, where I am sure will be heard live soon enough. The last minute of the track where Gerrit counts to ten, I could visualize a crowd raising their fists in the air until an ultimate headbanging finale.
As the album reached the halfway mark, “The Hunger” came on which is about one minute long and perhaps an Acoustic instrumental break between the madness. Not much else needs to be said about it. Finally, “White Eyes” opens up the second half with a long-lasting riff that shines up until the vocals hit. Keeping up with the re-ignited brutality as “Shaman’s Dance” hit next with its slow bass induced beginning. A disturbing guitar riff enters as drums come peddling in adding a hollow sound. This track is over eleven minutes long as it hammers in with such brutality. I didn’t even want the song to end as the differentiated melodies kept me mesmerized.
The album goes into yet another intermission with “Silence and Sound,” where to me it was a bit unnecessary and redundant. My favorite track on this album is “Earthborn.” The progression is spot on where the elements flow nicely together. The guest female vocals brought in an additional radiance. The next “Limbo,” concludes the album on a four-minute instrumental medley that reminds me of the previous intermission tracks. More of an opus tune, where it abruptly ends, and you think, “that’s it?”
The album in itself has a “Limbo” vibe where it doesn’t give too much or too little; however, the good weighs out the bad. This one is worth checking out, but Ketzer has changed, and you should be ready to embrace it.
Written by: Zenae Zukowski