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Review: Sacriphyx/StarGazer split

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Sacriphyx/Stargazer split

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This is a split release featuring two Australian bands, Sacriphyx on one side and StarGazer on the other. Each band plays one song, and both songs reach past the seven-minute mark. While both bands are, in some ways, very different, they do seem to share a penchant for climactic and melodious songwriting and a highly conceptual approach. I will be reviewing each band’s side separately, although Sacriphyx’s side has my personal favor.

Sacriphyx ~ A.J. Shout VC

The song begins like the entrance into a dream or the switching on of a grainy old film, introducing itself with a slow-paced, nearly doom-like riff expressing a kind of sadness or nostalgia through a relatively overcast production job. The vocals, a subdued yet bestial rasp, come in early, beginning the story of a certain Captain Alfred John Shout, a brave and noble war hero. The band transitions into a new motif, which is then further elaborated upon by some interesting melodic guitar work, and it is clear at this point that their music very much resembles the Grecian style of black metal exemplified by a band such as Varathron. It’s a dramatic, melodic mixture of various styles of heavy metal that distinguishes itself by its simplistic, classical grace and sense of beauty amidst the chaos of its thematic elements, i.e., combat and heroism. An emotive solo gives way to a particularly stirring riff, the song’s centerpiece, before more repetition of previous motifs, and finally, a fade back into the introductory riff. Every aspect of Sacriphyx’s majestic music seems comprehensively thought-out and deliberate, from the song’s structure to the more minute aspects of its percussion, explaining the band’s modest yet quality output. After listening to this miniature epic of a song this morning during the storm, I can attest to its being suitably perfect for rainy, depressing weather.

StarGazer ~ Tryaal by Obsidian

Up until now I had not heard StarGazer, as anything labeled “progressive” or “avant-garde” tends to leave me disenchanted. And while StarGazer’s side of the split definitely fits into these categories, it does not sacrifice creative songwriting nor organic production values for glossy technicality. Their music is somewhat difficult to find comparison for, but in terms of riffing this song alternates between eccentric, angular segments and more traditional melodic metal that elaborates upon itself before building to a climax and fading away before a wondrous clean guitar outro. To all appearances this is a conceptual technical/melodic death metal act writing songs that, if they were fiction, would hover in orbit somewhere between fantasy and sci-fi. Topping this off is the clearly audible harmonic bass playing and some seriously out-there occult artwork.

Digger metal heads in the Los Angeles area should check out the following links of interest for more information or to purchase this release:

Sacriphyx Website

Sacriphyx Fan Myspace

StarGazer Myspace

Buy the 7"

Buy the 12"

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