Hologram Temple

Stellar Master Elite

From the very first moments of the opening song "Null", it becomes clear that STELLAR […]
By Santiago Puyol
May 17, 2019
Stellar Master Elite - Hologram Temple album cover

From the very first moments of the opening song "Null", it becomes clear that STELLAR MASTER ELITE are set to make a heavy, dark, and mysterious album with "Hologram Temple". A barricade of noise and weird spoken word samples, followed by cavernous growls bridge together elements of Black, Death and Doom Metal, as well as the gloomier side of Electronica, Ambient, Noise and even Punk, with an almost Avant-Garde approach to songwriting at points. This German band has managed to build an outstanding piece of work.

"Null" evokes some of the darkest and heaviest moments of early OPETH, but the addition of synths (some of them getting so noisy to the point of pure distorted sound) shows things are taking a different approach. At their most electronic, the band reminded me of projects like GOST or PERTURBATOR that take Electronica to a heavy and almost Metal place. The main difference here is that STELLAR MASTER ELITE actually fuse the so-called "real" instruments with the electronic ones.

This brutal album features several styles of harsh vocals. It mostly sticks to deep, death growls, but adds in some screamed, borderline Hardcore vocals, as well as more screechy, higher-pitched vocals that are closer to the Black Metal style. The band gets at its most "demonic" on second track and single "Freewill Decrypted", the heaviest track on the album and the second shortest.

The rhythmic section shines throughout the album, the drumming being a highlight in particular, with dense, busy patterns in most songs and great use of bass sounds. Synthesizers get to be used to various effects - such as providing creepy atmospheric sounds, accentuating rhythmic pulses and adding raw, skullcrushing noise to the songs.

"Apocalypsis" or the second half of fifteen-minute closer "Tetragon" are perfect examples of using synthesizers and electronic instrumentation to add a sinister and eerie atmosphere to the album; building layer upon layer of cold keyboard melodies, little weird noises and soft unnerving hums. Feeling even closer to a horror movie soundtrack is "Agitation Consent War", a drum-led interlude that features whispered vocals and manic laughter, over a bed of spooky synthesizer ambience.

Some Hardcore Punk influences bleed into "Black Hole Dementia" and "The Beast We Have Created", both fast-paced tracks with groovier rhythms, the former becoming a little tribal at moments, while the latter gets borderline Dance inspired. Meanwhile, "The Secret of Neverending Chaos" synthesizer work feels reminiscent of German Synth-Rock bands of the 80's - very orchestrated in nature, but grittier.

"Ad Infinitum" brings a little Doom Metal to play with its dirge-like, slow chugging intro that also adds more spoken-word samples into the mix. It is a very dynamic track that features some impressive melodic guitar playing and builds a lot of tension during its first three minutes, befor the vocals finally enter the song. During its eight-minute length, it moves between soft, electronic passages, and hard-hitting, complex, heavy sections.

Closer "Tetragon's" first half truly manages to blend the heaviest of Metal with the catchiest and more mechanic nature of Electronica. Synths and beats pulse on this extended song with a four-on-the-floor, Techno-ish vibe, never losing its evil nature, while the live drums provide some of the harshest, blast beats of the record. Taking over a quarter of the record, it certainly sits as its own entity, but still feels like the natural ending point of the record, building upon everything that came before.

"Hologram Temple" is an interesting record, more than worth some repeated listens, but it is not without its flaws, or at least, disadvantages. Being a little over an hour long, it can be an exhausting experience because of how noisy it is. It's not the heaviness; it's the raw, bizarre waves of noise and high-pitched blips that can be a little too much at points.

I also missed the presence of soloing throughout the album. Although not necessarily a bad thing in itself, having only one clearly noticeable guitar solo on "The Secret of Neverending Chaos" made me realize how much I would have liked to hear more of that-especially it being so damn good.

Overall, a strong effort, with exceptional songwriting and a thought-provoking approach to what music and what noise is.

8 / 10









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"Hologram Temple" Track-listing:

1. Null
2. Freewill Decrypted
3. Apocalypsis
4. Ad Infinitum
5. The Beast We Have Created
6. Agitation Consent War
7. Black Hole Dementia
8. The Secret of Neverending Chaos
9. Tetragon

Stellar Master Elite Lineup:

Line-up Unavailable

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