Review Summary: A masterful debut of beauty and brutality by an up and coming band to watch
Combining the juxtaposition of solemn atmosphere and relentless riffing of black metal with the raw emotional directness and crescendos of screamo, Together To The Stars deserve to have a crossover hit on their hands. These songs continuously surprise without being abrupt or haphazard, skyscraper riffs and torrential drumming existing alongside gauzy alt-rock textures and perfectly placed moments of melody (seriously, the chorus to Apathy is a fist-pumping ripper). While this may not sound entirely novel, it's the level of execution and raw emotive despair of Franco Fuentes' vocals that make this a true standout. The fact that it's only two newcomers responsible makes it all the more impressive.
The first 3 tracks form the heart of the album, culminating in the highlight and early SOTY Apathy. Timeless and Oblivion are full of triumphant shredding and gorgeous passages of shimmering post-rock, accentuating Fuentes vocals to create a mood equally stratospheric and guttural. Timeless in particular is a real beauty, marrying woozy shoegaze to Fuentes blunt force but legible screams and wailing guitar theatrics. Apathy is an absolute behemoth of a track and the longest on the album, clocking in at over 11 minutes long. Starting as a decidedly old school metal barn burner with a wildly anthemic scream along chorus, it changes shape organically as it ramps up in speed and blast beats until a geyser of epic slow motion riffs crack the song wide open. It continues in this vein, searching and surging, until a false ending gives way to momentary chaos and is just as sharply resolved with spacious guitar ringing out unadorned. It sounds completely spent and alone, and reasonably so after the pulverizing heights reached along the way.
The two songs that follow are both more than worthwhile but feel just the slightest bit complacent and redundant when you consider the feverish alchemy of genres that came before. Shrine is an interlude of thick acoustic guitars and heart-tugging strings that closes with martial drumming and warm piano. Sanctuary is a powerful finale but also the most straightforward song to be found here, full of furious drumming and five star alarm guitar squall. It's doomier and more overtly black metal, with the vocals lower in the mix and the delivery more clipped for most of its duration. It does culminate in possibly Fuentes most passionate and heartwrenching performance amidst rapid-fire tremolo picking and half-time drums, but the slightly more conventional first half is a drawback, even if only in comparison to what the band themselves have already accomplished earlier. Still, this is only the band's debut, and the thought of Together To The Stars improving upon what is already startlingly close to exemplary is incredibly exciting. This is a release that deserves to be championed in multiple genres by a relentless and special new band that is definitively one to watch.