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II: Destructive Interference Generator

Exciter (2013)
Rating: 6/10

Welcome to Weirdsville! The uniquely named Stellar Master Elite – named after a track by Norwegian band Thorns – are a fearsome German duo who have a penchant for the old school, though can’t help but inject an unhealthy dose of modern dynamics in order to create punishing cold soundscapes.

There are many a band that can combine grey sounds of doom with remote black metal, odd industrial leaning, cosmic overtones and sinister black mid-tempo thrash that nods towards the likes of Voivod. Vocally it’s nothing original; it’s just a set of miserable, worthless rasps that kind of become arrogant narration over those bleak guitars and peculiar spaced-out synths.

However, because of the variety Stellar Master Elite tend to play with, II: Destructive Interference Generator makes for quite an intriguing listen. There is certainly a sense of the alien about this eight-track album which is the band’s follow up to the 2011 I platter.

There are a lot of bands around at the moment experimenting with black metal, one of my favourites being Lantern, and at times this does have the same sort of rank, damp air, as if it was recorded in the darkest corner of space where no other life dwells. The doomier edge which the band applies seems to be the most effective atmosphere the band opt for; the eight-minute ‘Beyond Light’ mixes a variety of styles, but really succeeds when the pace drops to a crawl and the vocals take on a nasty, arrogant tone over a grim background of cold sky and smoking pyres.

Stellar Master Elite certainly have an eye for odd melody too, especially with the groove-based buzz of ‘Pattern Of Perception’, but the vocals do tend to make such a track slightly more mediocre than I had originally hoped for.

‘Prison Planet’ adopts a bleak façade with those orchestrations but as the band trudge on through the mire I quickly become uninterested, almost hoping and praying for something untoward to occur. Despite some jarring complexity on ‘The Mobius Strip’ and the 11-minute plod of the title track, Stellar Master Elite are simply another wasted doom metal band who’ve thrown in a few curves but without really being successful.

Sure, II: Destructive Interference Generator is pretty grim at times, and again I revert back to the title track which oozes like black fog across the landscape, strangling all life from any vegetation, but if it’s not mocking doom or blackened groove, then it’s a mix of both but not as peculiar as I initially thought upon first listen.

‘Empty Shells Of Being’ is the standout track and adopts a back-beat that wouldn’t seem out of place on an early 80s New Wave album, even with extra hand-clap type arrangements. It’s a shame the rest of the record didn’t follow suit because if Stellar Master Elite kept to this unusual, catchy yet still impure structure then I’d be quite enthralled.

I sincerely hope the guys take this criticism as productive, because ‘Empty Shells Of Being’ is an absolute cracker of an avant garde tune that seems out of place on an album that doesn’t live up to expectation.

Neil Arnold

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