Distant Sun - Into the NebulaMuch like their home country, Distant Sun are composed of contrasts. The same country which sired Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Mendeleev also gave rise to Stalin1, turned a blind eye to mass rapes2 and has one of the most corrupt political systems in the developing world. While not so controversial nor violent, this Moscow-based trio draws equally from both thrash and power metal, pushing their sound a little further on this, their sophomore record. It’s engaging on an immediate listen and certainly fares better than other Russian power metal I’ve reviewed. But also within my responsibilities are a minimum number of mandatory listens and a balanced judgment so spend more time on Into the Nebula I did.

Alexey Markov on guitars and vocals seems to mark much of what occurs on Into the Nebula. His shouts often adopt a Mustaine sneer and he sounds very James Hetfield on “I Do Believe” at the close. But as easily as he draws on these thrash legends he can also emulate Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) very convincingly. These somewhat harsher power-metal wails are most evident in “The Battle that Never Ends” and “The Tharks,” replete with questionable English accent and ridiculous over-singing in the choruses. This duality of thrash and power mimics the trajectory of the album as a whole: splitting its run-time between these two styles, Into the Nebula has a little more to it than you would expect of these component genres individually. While heavy riffs and rollicking drums fall towards the former, the catchy choruses and noodly solos are closer to the latter. The introduction to “God Emperor” is quite chuggy, something like Slayer, but the vocals are proper power metal, leaning heavily on classic metal for influence. This heavier, riffier amalgamation lands the work not far from the likes of Iced Earth.

Distant Sun 2016But divesting the album of its seemingly-central vocal aspect unveils surprisingly great instrumental passages when given their opportunity. Unlike some power bands, the vocals are not a crutch. “Andromeda” is a mid-album instrumental piece and easily one of the highlights. Stripping that melodic aspect pulls out all the stops on the guitars as the riffs, solos, and differing tones thrill and entertain in equal measure. The crunch really gets your neck going while the muted intro and outro has an atmospheric quality quite unlike anything else on Into the Nebula. While there are enjoyable vocal melodies on other songs which also impress, “Andromeda” is by the most musically interesting. Sadly, the absence of this elsewhere is noticeable by comparison and suggests to me that the record could have been much more if such emphasis were placed on the wider instrumentation overall.

And this leaves the remaining album as essentially competent, with a few highlights, but not particularly outstanding. I’m struggling to elucidate specific flaws but the gist is that you’ll hear it, enjoy it, re-listen to the better bits, then put it down forever. The split between two genres ensures things don’t become stale and there are definite moments but my overarching feeling is one of apathy. The rhythms, riffs, and structures don’t vary much and the average tracks are undermined by simply existing next to the above-average ones. The dynamically-limited mastering bolsters this ordinariness as individual parts of the music don’t pop and all tracks have a similar sound.

Distant Sun are the classic example of why middling bands are the most difficult to review: their work is solid for a couple of listens but doesn’t stand up to repetition over the course of a week or two. Those particularly partial to heavier power metal or who quickly cycle through lots of music may take more from their experience but I look for albums which will stick with me for the long-term. I’m afraid Into the Nebula won’t.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Metalism Records
Websites: facebook.com/distantsun
Releases Worldwide: November 18th, 2016

Show 2 footnotes

  1. who murdered greater numbers than Hitler.
  2. if you are to believe Western historians.
  • Reese Burns

    I’m not big into power metal, but this actually piqued my interest, so I’ll be giving it at least a cursory listen.

    • Stefunal

      Try the previous effort instead. Much better, IMO.

  • lot of nostalgia crammed into that video. and a lot of cheese.

  • AnnieK13

    Not caring much for the lyrics on the embedded track…lots of scifi references but just didn’t work for me. Still, I may check out the rest – not in a rush to do so though.

  • WhamBamSam

    I love me some Power/Thrash, but I’m just not feeling this. Ah well.

    • Diego Molero

      You don’t feel the wham and the bam?

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Kinda seems like they’re trying too hard.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Hey the new Metallica album comes out tomorrow!!!!!! It’s being called a major return to form and truly the album that America needs right now. I’m sure we’ve all heard “Hardwired” the new single, which, quite frankly, makes “The Call of Ktulu” sound like a flaming pile of shit, not to mention it’s easily Hetfield’s most lyrically ambitious song ever, with such brilliant lines as “We’re so fucked, shit outta luck.”

    This site is gonna need to review this album and give it their first 11, because a 10 would be insulting to something this magnificent .

    • Diego Molero

      Okey I’m going to ask because I’m 100% sure that there are people who feel that way about the new Metallica album, so here it goes: are you serious?… I believe that you certainly aren’t serious, but hell, who knows for sure?

      Also, I think that “The Call of Ktulu” is better than “Orion”, am I the only one?

      • Oscar Albretsen

        LOL – C’mon, you really think I’m serious? Actually, I’d be surprised if this site even touches this album, and I’ve listened to about 3 songs from it, and they all sounded like crap. I was just making a lame joke because almost all the mainstream sites that have reviewed this album have been fawning over it (“return to form” in many, and “album America deserves” in Britain’s Telegraph, while he was actually trying to come down on the negativity of American music as a whole). Just kinda saddens me a bit how huge this album is gonna be when there are truly great metal bands like Khemmis or Haken, but 99% of the people who make this album go platinum aren’t gonna have the slightest clue they even exist. Oh, btw, IMO “Ktulu” > “Orion.” “orion’s great, too, though.

        • El_Cuervo

          I think the general consensus is not crap, not outstanding, somewhere in the middle. Noone would care if it were a random band.

          • Bart the Repairman

            A “random band” (or more precisely, a starting, aspiring band) would probably be ashamed of putting such basic riffs on the album. They’d be condemned into oblivion for that.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            I have to agree with this. Just like “Death Magnetic” it’s uninspired garbage that’s gonna get praise everywhere at first because Metallica is so huge, but after a couple months, it’s gonna be in the bottom of the rack. So why am I wasting my time posting about it, you may ask? Just because random Bands didn’t put out RTL or MOP. And they also didn’t turn into total dicks for no apparent reason.

          • Adam

            No one would shit on it without even listening to it if it were a random band either tbh..

            As you say, it lands somewhere in the middle. Both in terms of Metallica’s discography and metal in 2016. They write some legit cool songs, some filler typical of their failure to self edit post-1991, but nothing that will touch their classics or the year’s best albums.

            “ashamed of such basic riffs” and “uninspired garbage” are over-the-top criticisms that wouldn’t get levelled at any other band putting out the same material.

            I enjoyed it. Half the album will get replayed regularly. 2.5 stars for the album, would be 3.5 if it was 20 mins shorter though.

        • Diego Molero

          Yeah, I knew you weren’t serious, but as you said, there really are people who think like that on the new Metallica album. And I would like to read a review on this site, is the only review from that album that I would read. I heard the whole thing once, and while I still don’t have an actual opinion, I think it’s pretty meh on first impression.
          And of course, “Orion” is a great song, it’s just that I always seem to get the feeling that “Orion” is the one that gets the most love and not “Ktulu”, but hey, same goes with all of MoP actually, love to death that album, but Ride the Lighting is clearly better.

      • Wilhelm

        It’s a solid outing, not MOP but their best since their black album and little to no cringworthy moments, James doesn’t say yeah after every line, but kirk is still wahing his heart out.

        • Oscar Albretsen

          And Lars is still there…

      • OzanCan

        Nope you are not, I share the same opinion..

      • Innit Bartender

        No you are not. It is definitely better.

    • Iain Gleasure

      I just realized that those lyrics are familiar to me because they’re basically the same as Tenacious D’s Beelzeboss: “Yes you are fucked, shit out of luck!”
      Metallica is copying Jack Black! Someone call a lawyer for copyright infringement! (jk)

  • Excentric_13073

    From that video this appears to be entirely about Dune??

    • Hulksteraus

      God Emperor to be exact…

  • IndignantN00b

    Stalin was Georgian, not Russian.

    • El_Cuervo

      “gave rise to Stalin”. I am aware of that fact, hence why I did not say “birthed”.

  • Treble Yell

    Gonna have to listen to this when I get home from work. Could be just the ticket.

  • Colin Stuart

    Music is pretty meh, but the artwork is cool as hell.

    • CongregationofFoxes

      why does it seem like albums with some of the coolest album art are always bad :/

  • Dead1

    ” has one of the most corrupt political systems in the developing world. ”
    Russia’s not in the “developing world.” Despite it’s problems it is very much part of the developed world according to most indicators.

    Nor is it’s political system amongst the most corrupt in the world (though it is extremely corrupt).
    Tis what happens when metalheads try to be intemellectual.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Yeah, it has come a long way, for sure.

    • El_Cuervo

      By most indicators it is “still developing”. “Development” is kinda arbitrary but in the opinion of most it is “still developing”. Curiously, it is Western academics ranking them as “still developing”, non-Western a’s “developed”. Regardless, in those middling countries of “still developing” rather than “underdeveloped”, it is one of the most corrupt by corruption index stats.

      Hence “one of the most corrupt political systems in the developing world”.

      • Vice-President of Hell

        as a russian, i could tell you that callin’ russia “developing country” is funny. russia is degrading country, not developing

      • dead1

        I call bollocks. The IMF etc refers to Russia as a developed country (though not advanced economy). In 15 years of following international politics or economics I have never heard Russia referred to as a developing country except here.

        As for corruption last survey I saw about corruption placed Russia at about 110 out of nearly 170 countries. Given spread a.mere couple of points pushes them considerably further up or down the ladder given how corrupt the non Western world is.

        Though developing as a phrase is going out of fashion amongst academics cause it implies going forward and many countriesa are stagnant or going backward s

  • Vice-President of Hell

    stalin was born in Georgia, Gori, by the way

  • Stefunal

    The best thing about this band is that it’s one of the few Russian acts with actual potential and a good quality. You see, what most would be considered a middling band by most is a rarity in our scene, since most bands are either lackluster or incredibly bland.
    Though I must say that the debut album was much more fun, to be honest.