Review Summary: A release of anger and melancholy almost unlike no other.
If depression could be summed up with one piece of music, The Stars Are Dead Now would be it. Even looking at the album cover (the original that is, not the reissue) creates the ever-so-important image in which you need to bear in mind while listening to the album, before the album even begins. It’s dark. It’s bleak. It’s bereft of hope.
This is not depressing in the way that bands such as Agalloch are, who focus on beauty in their songs. Nor is it depressing in the way that many modern day black metal bands such as Walknut and Addaura present their music, through creating a wall of noise that sucks you and ingests you, never spitting you back out. No, Coldworld achieve this through being down-right cold and grim, yet not necessarily just relying on traditional heavy metal instruments to evoke feelings of melancholy. Violins and keyboards are also used to enhance the mood.
The keyboards are mainly in the background and are perhaps one of the main contributors to the depressing feel of this EP. Each long and drawn out key just adds to the despair that Coldworld creates. Quieter, softer sections are in abundance too. These passages are very haunting and match very well with the more aggressive and hateful moments.
However, due to the nature of the genre that Coldworld plays, technicality in other instruments is nearly non-existent. There are no blistering guitar solos, no catchy riffs, no prominent bass lines; just straight up atmospheric black metal. While this can be seen as a positive by some, it’s also very easy to see it as a negative, as it somewhat reduces the replay value of the EP, as there is a significant lack of any real memorable moments, even after a few listens.
The vocals here are outstanding. These days, many black metal vocalists can certainly hit high-pitched screeches, but the conviction and power are just lacking. This is not the case with Coldworld vocalist Georg Börner (who also handles all the other instruments, for that matter). His vocals are full of hatred and pain, and are produced in a way similar to that of a certain Varg Vikernes’ vocals in Burzum’s classic album ‘Filosofem’, making them sound gritty and hoarse. This vocal style goes hand in hand with the depressing and misanthropic lyrics too (although the lyrics are nearly impossible to distinguish, due to the production of the vocals).
Another problem with the EP is that some things seem slightly out of place. Take the intros of the songs ‘Hate’ and ‘Ragnarok’. While The Stars Are Dead Now progresses as an atmospheric black metal EP, the aforementioned intros seem intent on following a more traditional style of heavy metal, with the riffs especially departing from the black metal element. While this seems like an attempt to introduce a little variety into the EP, it ultimately fails, and they seem somewhat out of place compared to the rest of the EP; they are the two wolves among the flock of sheep.
Overall though, Coldworld have given an insight into what their predominant sound will soon become with The Stars Are Dead Now, and that is depressing, misanthropic, suicidal and bereft of all hope. Although not doing anything too different from a lot of modern day black metal releases, The Stars Are Dead Now is a solid EP and a great listen, and surprisingly very accessible too. It shows that Coldworld have the potential to go places in the future, it’s just a matter of trying to stand out amongst the large number of similar artists at the moment; Coldworld itself needs to be the wolf among the flock of sheep.