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|Lords Of Metal||-||Metal Coven|
|Metal Domination||-||Metal Mayhem|
|Metal Observer||-||Voices From The Darkside|
|Lordsofmetal.nl | written by: Vera | Rating: 84 of 100 points|
What a coincidence! I just watched an educative documentary about the sun. Already in the beginning I was confronted with the theory which is also the subject of this concept CD. All planets and suns came into being out of one big bang of the extant material. It is an intriguing statement that goes deeper in the disclosure of mysteries far outside our common Milky Way. The sun, the planets, the animals, man itself, every micro-material comes from stardust in the infinite universe. Even all religions talk that way: dust to dust, ashes to ashes. For such an ice-cold theme, the atmospheric black metal of Sternenstaub suits
Founder of this Austrian cult-band is Bernd Grünwald. This happened in 1997 with the intention to mix classic music with black metal. This idea is fully developed on ‘Destination: Infinity’. In 2002 the MCD ‘Astronomica’ was released. In the Winter of 2002 the line-up became more stable when Karim Kienzle (Golden Dawn) and Moritz Neuner (Abigor, Graveworm) joined the band and concerts became possible. From that moment they could start working on their debut ‘Destination: Infinity’ which is in the stores
Sternenstaub stands for symphonic black metal along the lines of Arcturus and Limbonic Art but more open and less biting and cutting sounds. One can perceive already in the first track ‘Darkness And Stars’ with its melodic black metal sound mixed with orchestral parts to create diversity. In ‘The Mind’s Eye’ we can hear some flutes and the epic character comes to life by heroic polyphone vocals, choruses with clean vocals and moreover a dark voice like a echo out of space. These are qualities that will return often in most of the songs. ‘Astronomica’ is a killer track. It starts with dark, threatening orchestration, heavy riffs follow and beside the rather discreet black metal vocals we can enjoy polyphonic sacral choirs. The construction of the songs works always towards a certain tension and the clean vocals remind me sometimes of Hubert of our own Dutch Whispering Gallery. ‘Distant Spheres’ is the heaviest track of the CD, with its high speed blastbeats, but even here we cannot ignore some symphonic details. Strings and a spatial distorted voice rule once more in the next songs, while spoken fragments are often used too. The guitar-play in ‘The Eternal Slumber’ leans a lot on traditional heavy metal. So it is not only an interesting theme that comes up on this CD, but we can also go through many different musical spheres. Just listen to the title-track when pontifical choirs illustrate the admiration for the immensity of the universe and a magnificent guitar-solo translates a common feeling of melancholy.
|Voices From The Darkside | written by: Ramon Claassen | no rating|
This is how I like my symphonic Black Metal. The keyboards are actually supporting the songs! If I had to compare Austria’s STERNENSTAUB with one of the bigger Black Metal acts, I’d probably say DIMMU BORGIR but this doesn’t really hit the nail on its head. STERNENSTAUB have a lighter, more fragile structure and they sound less bombastic. For my drawers they sound less space than medieval but I’m a jerk anyway. Actually, they remind me a little of one of my favorite German Black Metal bands, HIDDEN IN THE FOG, because of their use of the synthesizers. STERNENSTAUB’s (stardust) compositions are more accessible, though, less complex, less evil and less EMPEROR. They actually have their very own delightful taste of unique beauty. This might not be the right thing for Mr. Stöver but I’d give it a try if you’re into well-executed symphonic Black Metal.
|Metal Domination | written by: Antwnis Maglaras | Rating: 9 of 10 points|
When i received this album, i said: "Another unknown band", of course they are not Iron Maiden, but they have members from some other great bands like "Graveworm", "Golden Dawn" and "Abigor" . The band, has also a mini cd, so this is their debut album. Sternenstaub, walk in the path of Symphonic Black metal, like Arcturus, Limbonic Art and old Kovenant. This album has eight very good songs, with a great production and crystal sound. Also the cover of the album is very good to my eyes too. Of course is needless, to say that if you like the bands above, don't think not to buy this album.
|Metal Observer | written by: Patrick | Rating: 8 of 10 points|
In the Alps, there seem to grow not only violets recently. At our neighbours of Austria came out a lot of black violets in recent time. The Black Metal a la BELPHEGOR, GRAVEWORM (those come from South Tyrol... – Alex) or ABIGOR gets more and more observance and attention. With STERNENSTAUB, we have now another Austrian band, which wants to come into notice.
The guys from Austria play symphonic Black Metal a la LIMBONIC ART, SEAR BLISS or ARCTURUS on their debut “Infinity”. All eight songs have a common lyrical relation, so this record can be seen as a concept album. To dip into the subject: bandleader Bernd Grünwald believes, that the world and also humankind is made of stardust. This means roughly: we are made of dust and we will turn again into dust when we pass away. Surely an interesting thought, which is among others shown in the lyrics. Musically, STERNENSTAUB play mostly in midtempo, whereby it’s here and there full of symphonic parts. Whether it may be the opener “Darkness And Stars” or on any other song, there are always again violins or slight wind players influences. If my hearing doesn’t betray me, they stem from a synthie and aren’t handmade. That’s sad because rightly that classic hints would be much more lively, if they had been done with real instruments. However, the atmosphere isn’t completely away. “Distant Spheres” or “The Mind’s Eye” can convince me the most. Thrashing parts are also there but they are more in the background on “Destination...”. Vocally are STERNENSTAUB diversified as well. Sometimes, the shouter nags like a real Black Metal singer, sometimes he sings classically and clearly. Whereby last mentioned style sometimes comes around a bit cut fat. The overall sound is really okay for a Black Metal debut album, merely the guitars could be a bit more in the forefront to not suffer the heaviness.
STERNENSTAUB made a really good debut album with “Infinity”, that’s sure. The Austrians can’t yet compete with aforementioned bands like ARCTURUS or LIMBONIC ART, but they made a good foundation. There’s nothing else to criticize except mentioned lacks. The disc contains eight very good and varied songs and that’s the main point. Those, who are now interested in the band (musically, of course), should check them out immediately.
|Archaic Metallurgy | written by: Lane | no rating|
Sternenstaub (stardust in English) have been operating since 1997, but only now the debut album sees the light of a day. Man behind this is Bernd Grünwald and his goal was to fuse classical music with black metal. Please, keep on reading, since this is something quite different when compared to all those "symphonic black metal" bands.
There's a same concept in all the songs: everything on Earth, including mankind, is made of stardust. "From dust to dust", since nothing lasts forever. I personally find it more interesting as satan and such any day and the lyrics aren't too easily comprehended. Cosmic vocabulary has been used a lot, but self-realization is another concept. Generally, the lyrics are well written. Cover art's style is a bit overused nowadays, but don't let that feint you, since Sternenstaub have created quite an individual platter.
Classical influence is audible in synthesizer work. Layers of keyboards are as fundamental part of the music as metal. The synths aren't usual one-finger stupidity, but really composed. Interesting new ideas, but also something familiar. One thing, that I don't really like is amount of preset sounds used; a lot. In my ears, some sounds are lame, like that one "imitating oboe" or something. When considering the classic influence, there's not much string sounds utilized. Electronic bleeps are actually under-used! I think they might have brought in more of that cosmic atmosphere, which is reduced by the lame preset synth sounds, just as is dark atmosphere. I don't know how much of synth work is Stefan Traunmüller's, but this reminds me a lot of his other band's, Golden Dawn's, material. Also "Mediterranean" is what comes to my mind about the synths. One thing I'm pleased with are real drums, performed by ex-Abigor skinbasher Moritz Neuner (also in Graveworm). Black metal influence can be heard on guitar work and vocals. Fast high pitched riffing is a big part of Sternenstaub's method to sound cold, but when used, it sounds too thin making me yearn for meatier sound. But there's also heavier riffing providing the meat so to speak, and indeed very good and memorable solos and leads. Second guitar is played by Golden Dawn member Vocals are mostly throat ripping shrieking, which sounds actually positively, well, throat ripping! Some classical singing and clean vocals is heard, both okay, plus some effected ones. Every song has its "thing", a meaning, so musically the album isn't lacking of contents.
While compositions sometimes take a step or two into more adventurous fields of music, synths aren't. And same goes to sound. While being clear and just heavy enough, there's not much feel of dark cosmic forces here. Yes, it is unimaginative. Flat, powerless snare drum sound gets buried in faster beats. As mentioned, this is musically good, so ability to raise music prior to sound is needed.
The album begins with what I think is the weakest song, maybe because of those synths. However, every song betters the previous one up to 'Frozen Tears', which is the masterpiece of this album. As the remaining two are good songs, this is another good debut album. This is a nice addition, if not very cosmic or dark, to any dark metal fan's record collection. While lacking of truly adventurous spirit, the next one will show if Sternenstaub can rise to cosmic infinity or not.
|Fleshrites | written by: Lord Adarvark | Rating: 6.5 of 10 points|
STERNENSTAUB, Stardust in English, is an Austrian project led by Bernd Grünwald focusing in combining classic music with extreme sounds, after their 'Astronomica' MCD Karim Kienzle (GOLDEN DAWN) and Moritz Neuner (ABIGOR, DARKWELL) have joined him in order to play live and to finish this LP. So, the idea of combining classic music with black metal isn't new, you don't need more than remembering those LIMBONIC ART, ARCTURUS o PROFANUM, but if I had to compare this band with any of them I couldn't choose the one which best fits.
Let's see, this band hasn't the omnipresent synths like in LIMBONIC ART, or the orchestral stuff in ARCTURUS or the atmospheric environment in PROFANUM. Really what I see in this album is not very orchestral, I could call it a very melodic black metal with more keyboard melodies than usual and a not so condensed guitarwork as in other melodic bands, the only orchestral points that I see are the slow and melodic keyboard solos and some chorus, here yes, in the line of ARCTURUS. Vocals aren't outstandingly good else, and you won't find here very often any bit of that aggressivity typical in the black metal scene, only guitar distortion in the line of the Norwegian school. The four tracks of their previous MCD are included in this LP, probably they are the best songs all along the album.
What you have here is a very melodic metal with black metal tendences and a lot of keyboard melodies which take sometimes more relevance that the guitarwork itself, other times guitars and keys perform completely different pieces at the same time giving a very chaotic effect. For fans of the new black-Avantgarde wave in the line of Ishan's side project THOU SHALT SUFFER and, further, ARCTURUS or similar.
|Metal Coven | written by: Britton | Rating: 8 of 10 points|
Back five to seven years ago, there was a a big influx of bands to arrive on the metal scene that had one theme they shared in common: Space. A large majority sounded similar. Atmospheric blackish metal with tons of keyboards, dreamy "clean" styled vocals, and lyrical content focusing on the outer reaches of space, etc. There were so many of these bands in fact, that they seemed to burn themselves out and their numbers began to steadily decrease. Years pass... planets die... planets are born... Enter Sternenstaub.
Sternenstaub (which translates into English as "Star Dust") is comprised of members of Golden Dawn and two of my favorite bands, Abigor and Graveworm. That's not to say Sternenstaub sounds like any of these aforementioned bands. Not at all, because Sternenstaub has stylings totally different than Abigor's and Graveworm's medieval leanings. "Destination: Infinity" is very atmospheric and a bit orchestral in nature and relies heavily on tons of keyboard passages that make the album sound almost like it was made on some futuristic computer. The music is basically atmospheric black metal, but it has that ethereal and otherworldly feeling at the same time. To make a comparison to an existing similar album, "Destination: Infinity" is a lot like Covenant's "Nexus Polaris", only not nearly as fast, and with more keyboard elements.
The vocals are black metal in nature and are really good, but at times the vocals are done in this bizarre half chanting half "clean" singing style that can grate on my nerves. I guess whoever is doing those vocals is trying to come across as some gigantic gas giant from some far away galaxy, but it doesn't work for me. If those vocals were either taken out or done by someone who could handle that style better, it would have sounded a lot better. The lyrics are I'm assuming in English, but since the promo didn't come with a finalized booklet, I can't say for sure. Judging from the song titles, I'm pretty sure they are entirely in English, though.
The production on the album is top notch. Since this album relies so much on the keyboard, a clean production was almost a necessity. All of the drums, bass and guitar parts meld well with the keyboards, so whoever mixed it did a fine job as well. A lot of albums like this have the keyboards at an almost overpowering level where it drowns out the bass, drums and even vocals at times.
I can't really comment on the packaging here because as stated above, this wasn't the actual final cover that was sent with the promo. It was just a cover "sleeve" with nothing except the cover art on front and the tracklisting on the back. The cover art is pretty cool though, depicting a computer generated (I think) image of space and aliens huddled together probably plotting Earth's demise.
All in all, "Destination: Infinity" is a really good album. Even though this has been done many times before, it's rarely done this well and at least this is released when the metal scene is not so over saturated with it. Fans of later day Arcturus, Limbonic Art and Covenant should definitely add this album to their collection.
|Metal Mayhem | written by: Chris | Rating: 8.25 of 10 points|
Formed back in 1997, initially as a one-man project, Bernd Grünwald
begin to write songs influenced by two totally different styles of music,
classical and black metal.
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