The lads from Germany are back with their new full length album “Starless.” I am going to go track by track as there is a lot to say and some of is not good. The main issue here is tone and the feel of the album. There are points on this album that have very little to even suggest that they’re even by the same band never mind on the same album. It is extremely annoying as when the lads find the sweet spot, those tracks are excellent.
Starting off with the title track “Starless”; this is an odd mix of an old school thumping punk rock romp and a great melodic part. Ketzer are a band that grow on you and there are hints of greatness on this record but a lot of annoying blandness too. The weird mesh of vocals over indie rock drums underscores the short falling of this release and I wish they started this with something other than “Starless” because it starts a bad tone.
“Count to Ten” has a nice, slow, eerie build into the track. The vocal choice suits this kind of song really well with its harsh, raw feel on top of the groovy meat of the tune. Ketzer are at their best here.
“When Milk Runs Dry” is another track where the lads slay and sound like they are firing at full power. It’s aggressive, pumping and just works. I really enjoy Ketzer when they know what kind of band they are and stick with it.
“Godface” and “Earthborn” are another two tracks that are “too punk for the vocals.” It sounds like two bands here and the jarring feel does nothing for me. That said; the music from an instrumental point of view is great. It’s light, bouncy punk but the vocalist is pure metal. That’s an issue.
“The Hunger” offers yet another tonal shift in the vein of an acoustic guitar interlude, while the eleven plus minute “Shaman’s Dance” is a bass driven progressive odyssey which I respect, a lot, but the album is a bit of a mess as a result.
“White Eyes” is a track that will kick your ass and that’s not a bad thing. Again, the lads nailed it here and it’s awesome. Deadly bass opening, building to a heavy chorus and the vocals work to create a really metallic ethos. Check this one out.
I don’t hate this album at all. I like and respect how progressive and off the choices are on this one. However, it doesn’t commit to that either. It wants to have its cake and eat it too. If Ketzer chose to go full on latter Darkthrone with this, great! That would’ve worked.
This approach is off putting and I can’t recommend it for anything more than the three excellent tunes mentioned above.
Release date: January 29th, 2016