So far, 2019 has been a year of anticipated releases for me.1 And, one I’ve been waiting a long time for is another new release from Stellar Master Elite. Twenty-fifteen’s III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter was the band’s pinnacle release. It combined Vangelis‘ synthetic wet dreams and mind-tripping soundclips with second-wave assaults and Vader airstrikes. Though everything SME has released is solid, III brought with it a new vocalist and direction. Building atmospheres now reign supreme over the band’s early days of traditional black metal. The result, as I mentioned in my III review, was something spontaneous, borrowing from a variety of black and death metal influences.2 Though III concluded the trilogy, there’s still loads of fun to be had on Hologram Temple.
Now, of course, “fun” is an objective concept. Yet, for me, it involves obliteration one moment and having my mind fucked in the next. Much like a suspenseful horror movie, Hologram Temple3 will never let up or give you a chance to exhale, while, in the next moment, soothing you with its lush interludes and effects-driven instrumentals. Hologram Temple ain’t for the gym and it ain’t for this summer’s family road trip. It’s for a dark, quiet room. One there you can absorb the power and majesty of this unholy synagogue.
As for album hard-hitters, none hit bigger than “Freewheel Decrypted,” “Black Hole Dementia,” and “The Beast We Have Created.” “Freewheel Decrypted” is the beastiest of them all. This opening-track successor has the heaviest Vader-esque riff the band has ever written. It’s a monstrous tune alternating deep growls and throaty rasps to the song’s Vaderian verses and Gorgorothian chorus. This is by far my favorite of the album. Like “Freewheel Decrypted,” “The Beast We Have Created” has a head-bobber of a lick. The songwriting, though, has a bit more black metal in it that, at times, reminds me of Milorg-era Vreid. It also concludes with the mind-warping effects that’ll have you picturing Deckard flying over his hopeless, dystopian city. “Black Hole Dementia,” on the other hand, is fucking Carpathian Forest-core. Its black ‘n’ roll antics are the most surprising of the album. It may not play well with others but it still fits well.
That also goes for closer “Tetragon.” This is no III closer. Rather than two-ish minutes of effect-ive atmospheres, “Tetragon” is a fifteen-minute exploration in synthetic, mind-numbing Thornsiness. This piece seems predictable until it rams a black metal suppository up the ass of an unsuspecting senior citizen. Once the distorted surprises subside, it settles into manufactured musings for the final third of its length. “Ad Infinitum” is similar in approach but with more synths and fewer vocals/distortion. This piece of hyperdimensional perception drags you into the dark cavern of psychedelic effects and into out-of-body experiences.
First impression: Hologram Temple is a proper follow-up to III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter. It has all the same traits that made me a believer of Eternalism, yet with some obvious growth and experimentation. One of the biggest differences are the vocals of returning champ, E.K. While his debut in 2015 was fantastic, he has developed even more strength and diversity on Hologram Temple. Instead of those black Satyr-like rasps of III, his voice has developed into the sinister, second-wave gargles of a vocalist like Pest (ex-Gorgoroth). He’s also not afraid of letting those throaty barks shine. The band has also put some of the trips to Thorns-ville aside for more Vangelis-like material to construct their place of worship. Final impression: Hologram Temple is every bit as good as III and I thank whatever deity dwells in their mosque for that.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork
Websites: stellarmasterelite.bandcamp.com | stellarmasterelite.com | facebook.com/smemusic
Releases Worldwide: May 3rd, 2019