Hot on the heels of last year’s 18° Below the Horizon, (which made it into my year end list), the artist behind the band has returned already. This time he’s packing 50 minutes of new material spread out over four grandiose songs.
On The What It Is to Be Starer’s vision of atmospheric and symphonic black metal is intact and well, and expressed in its longest form. Each of the first three songs last around 9 minutes in duration, and the epic final track is a gargantuan 23 minutes long. Compare this to the debut album where only one song was longer than 8 minutes, and it demonstrates that the artist has returned here more confident and ambitious than ever.
As the music unfolds we’re treated to an atmospheric journey into post-blackened waters. The mood-drenched tracks are driven by dark atmosphere and grim aggression. These aggressive aspects are more prevalent this time around, in places. This feeling is bolstered by the drums and vocals, both of which are more prominent in the music. Despite this, atmosphere is still the driving force behind Starer, more than anything else. Synths layer the music like a textured cloak of shaded colours, highlighting and enriching the rest of the music very effectively. Once again the synths are an integral and frequently captivating part of the songs.
I don’t know yet which album I prefer, as I obviously know 18° Below the Horizon much better at this point. However, I do know that The What It Is to Be is a very strong record, and if you’re a fan of the atmospheric blackened styles then you should hear this as a priority.
Very highly recommended.