Review Summary: Slick and twisted industrial metal2 of 2 thought this review was well written
It is rare to cross across a band as grim as Deathstars without marching straight into the over-crowded Swedish death metal scene. Despite the lack of throat-rending growls and face-ripping guitar solos, this Swedish quintet (although Cat Casino had not yet joined the band when this album was recorded) has managed to produce a wholly grotesque sound, shaped by gritty lyrics, twisted synth lines and the disturbingly low vocals of the aptly named "Whiplasher Bernadotte." Although it takes a bit to get into, Termination Bliss is an album that should not be missed.
The overall sound of Deathstars adheres to a simple but consistently entertaining formula. Despite the fact that the tracks are very similar in composition, each one brings a slightly different mood that does not allow Termination Bliss to become repetitive or even the slightest bit boring. Each track begins quietly with a dark synth line that lays the foundation for the crushing guitar riffs and equally low-pitched vocals. While the keyboards remain present throughout the entire album they are often over-shadowed by the lead-heavy guitar assault. Unfortunately, the guitarist, “Nightmare Industries” never really rips into any stunning guitar solos or even simple melodies, but he does put up a good fight with eleven tracks of solid riffage that varies from ringing choruses to choppy palmed verses. Drummer “Bone with Machine” follows the same code, never really cutting loose but providing and satisfyingly consistent performance throughout.
The last piece of this grisly puzzle, and ultimately the glue that holds this band together is the brutal vocal performance of “Whiplasher.” Imposing does not fully describe the nearly subsonic qualities of his voice. Forgive me for the use of a face-smashing cliché but listening to the vocals is similar to being hit in the face repeatedly with a sledge hammer without really feeling it. You get the vague feeling of blunt-force trauma but you’re in so much shock you don’t really notice the pain and you are crushed into a near-mindless state, unable to form coherent thoughts. Whiplasher’s vocal presence is not constrained to his normal crushing cleans either; he frequently employs semi-demonic whispers and screams to deliver his cunning and somewhat explicit lyrics across to the listener. Listening to his voice takes some conditioning but it is definitely worth it in the end.
Lastly, one of the defining characteristics of Deathstars is their somewhat-controversial image. Despite the cliché jet-black haircuts and excessive facial makeup, the Deathstars sport an aura that is undeniably awesome. This image paired with three deliciously well planned and interesting music videos makes for an incredible treat for those that bother stopping by their MySpace page.
Virtue to Vice