Starer – 18° Below the Horizon (Review)

Starer - 18° Below the HorizonThis is the debut album from Starer, a one-man black metal band from the US.

Brought to us by a member of Bihargam, Starer is a different proposition from that band, and offers 45 minutes of modern darkness for the listener to become absorbed by.

The musical style of 18° Below the Horizon is a post-black metal mixture of symphonic elements, melodic texture, atmospheric depth, and contemporary blackened extremity. The songs generally operate in atmospheric territories that have an aggressive bite to them. The songwriting is well-textured and mood-based, delivering songs that are drenched in atmosphere and blackened feeling. You can also hear some older influences on the music too; parts of Son of Fire, for example, showcase a second wave grandeur that’s quite intoxicating, and rarely encountered these days.

The symphonic elements are emotive and immersive, and work well with the rest of the music. As a mood-driven work the keyboards are integral to the effectiveness of the songs. The rest of the music is obviously important too, however, and the largely contemporary feel of the guitars is seamlessly integrated with the keyboards to produce music where the various components work well together. Sometimes this might be all aspects of a section fusing into an intense delivery that thunders along with great intensity, (Dayspring‘s brutal opening), whereas at others it might mean a slower, more considered approach that builds emotive soundscapes from the ground up, (First Morning Light).

The bass has a surprisingly prominent role to play on occasion too, which is rare to hear in black metal. Parts of Umbra demonstrate this very nicely, (as well as also exhibiting some nuanced guitar parts that are very memorable). As for the vocals, these tend to be enmeshed into the tapestry of the music, with daemonic screams and shrieks acting as another instrumental layer to the makeup of the songs.

This is the sort of album that slips under most radars, which is a huge shame as there’s a lot here to enjoy if this type of music appeals to you. The artist behind Starer has produced a highly satisfying and accomplished work on 18° Below the Horizon, and I urge you to check it out.

Very highly recommended.

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