By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Here is a riddle for you Uncivil Revolters. What do you get in an artist who has the macabre swagger of Marilyn Manson, the charm of Jim Morrison, the allure of David Bowie, and howling voice of both Rob Zombie and Wednesday 13? Answer: you get Alexander Blackstar. My publicist friend Raquel Figlo turned me onto this mysterious alternative/gothic metal artist who to take what Manson did and be even darker. Normally, I am not always into artists like this because they sometimes add industrial into their sound, and that is not always my cup of tea. However, I listened to Blackstar early, and I have to say that I am intrigued. After a successful debut last year with Facing Hell, he returns to the metal masses with Stellanera. Let the macabre commence.
We start off the instrumental “Intro (Ex Nihilo).” The haunting atmospheric music matches well with Blackstar’s chilling voice. The way his voice echoes off the music is bone-chilling. Adding the drums helps sell the buildup for the record, which makes me ache for more. “Emerge From the Dark” is more up my alley. Blackstar sounds gorgeous on the microphone as crosses the borders between screamer and melodic singer. He goes low on the tempo, making the song more eerie. As he handles all the instruments, he slays it on the alternative guitar riff. Up next is “Alpha.” He merges hard rock and industrial as one, creating an exciting rock ‘n’ roll song. The riffs he performs on guitar are very 60s influenced. It sounds like the Doors collaborating with Rammstein. He adds an electronic melody that interconnects nicely with the guitar beat. This is a great metal tune that one can dance to. “Noir Passage” is the album’s more industrial sounding tunes. It did not get a good feel for the beat during the verses as I thought it was too dull. However, when Blackstar reaches the chorus and bridge, the harmonies go into overdrive. Plus, the guitar solo he adds is thrilling.
We come to the have way point of Stellanera as we approach “Bound & Gagged.” The torturous lyrics go hand in hand with Blackstar’s menacing singing. A female vocalist (who is a mystery to me) guests on the song and she nails her part with ease. The self-titled track, “Stellanera,” is another short instrumental interlude. The strumming of the acoustic guitar is very mesmerizing. It has this sort of flamingo beat as I see myself dancing with a beautiful woman in Spain to the music. This helps slow the pulse down, allowing us to take a breath. “Into the Void” is where we see the mergence between industrial and electronic. I must admit, Blackstar can hypnotize the listener by the way he strokes the keys on the keyboard. As the song goes on, his voice gets more chilling. As far as industrial songs go, this one is not too bad. We close out the album with “Sweet Dreams.” Blackstar chooses to end the record with a Beyoncé cover of all things. Surprisingly, he makes it better than the original version. Replacing pop hooks with chilling guitar licks and pulsating electronic beats, he crushes this song.
I went into the album with open eyes and open ears. All in all, Blackstar really impresses me with his sophomore effort. Stellanera is a hauntingly beautiful album that is worthy for any fan of industrial metal or early day Marilyn Manson. He does an excellent job combining the different elements of rock/metal with electronic and industrial. I have been to the macabre, and I will be back for more in the future. To Alexander Blackstar, I salute you. Horns up!!!
1. Intro (Ex Nihilo)
2. Emerge from the Dark
4. Noir Presage
5. Bound & Gagged
7. Into the Void
8. Sweet Dreams (Bonus)
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