Review Summary: While spanning many genres and featuring many new additions to the Celldweller sound, Wish Upon A Blackstar is not without its faults.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought at one point that Klayton's second Celldweller album might not ever see the light of day in its complete form. Spending years holed up in the studio (its been over 9 years since the debut Celldweller record) working on this album and releasing it in chapters was certainly a different approach to get his sophomore album out, but after the first two chapters one began to wonder if it would ever be completed and if so if it would even measure up to the immeasurable amount of hype that Klayton was forming around it. After many years of waiting and numerous delays, the rest of the album is finally here with the other songs from it that have been released over the years in its final complete form, and its certainly an ambitious record.
If anyone has listened to Klaytons music over the years, you know that the multi-instrumentalist is always bringing in new aspects to his sound. With a massive running time of seventy-five minutes, Blackstar
spans numerous genres and Klayton never manages to disappoint with the music always taking new turns over the course of the album. "Unshakeable", the first real single from the album that was released last month, is one of the highlights of the album, featuring elements of dubstep mixed with Klaytons signature vocals and heavy riffs. Elsewhere, "Birthright" combines heavy bass lines with orchestral elements found on some of Klaytons instrumental work. "Eon" is Klaytons take on industrial metal while "Gift For You" presents a sinister vibe and female vocals to create a dark atmosphere among haunting synths. On almost every song here, one finds new elements in the music, and this is one of the strongest aspects of the album and the part of it that was worth the wait of all these many years. The album is massive in its running time, but the music never lets up from being instantly accessible and enjoyable with its many different elements.
Nevertheless, that doesnt mean that Blackstar
is without its flaws. The one that you will instantly notice is Klaytons lyrics. The lyrics throughout the album range from bad to flat out cringe-worthy. Most of the time, they are incredibly cheesy. "The Lucky One", an eight minute track released two years ago in Chapter three of the album, is a prime example of this. With lyrics like rusted linings on my black cloud/it's raining piss would someone tell me what that's all about?!
its impossible not to wonder that, given the incredibly long time it took Klayton to create and release this album, why there was such a lack of thought and work put into the lyrics. In this sense, it feels in some areas that the lyrics were just tacked on and that most of the time he took on the album was put into making the music itself. This deals an incredible blow to the record as a whole, but thankfully the music isn't equally as bad.
Given that it took Klayton nearly a decade to finish this album, I expected it to sound great, and one of the things I noticed about Blackstar
was its production. While extremely polished at some points, most of it puts emphasis on exactly what it needs to. In most places; every vocal, every riff, every drum beat, and especially the electronic elements all sound fantastic. In some tracks, Klayton even added female vocals (see "Gift For You" and "So Long Sentiment") to change up the vocals and add another layer to the sound of the album. One thing that I was wishing would appear at some point but never did was an appearance by Blue Stahli. Being a huge fan of his recently released self-titled album and knowing that him and Klayton are good friends, its a shame he didn't contribute to a track or two on Blackstar
to contribute vocals or any other instruments, but he is credited with production editing on some tracks across the album.
When it comes down to how you look at Wish Upon A Blackstar
, it really depends on what you expect when listening to Klaytons music. He is always throwing new elements into the Celldweller sound, and in that aspect this album certainly lives up to expectations and is incredibly fun to listen to as far as the music itself goes. Every track sounds different from the other and many genres are present throughout the context of the album. If you heard his music before, you know that his lyrics have never been his strong point, and that part is ever evident on Blackstar
. Was it worth waiting all these years for? I'll leave that to you to decide. However, let's hope that it doesn't take as long for Klayton to release his next album.