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Darkstar - Marching Into Oblivion CD (album) cover

MARCHING INTO OBLIVION

Darkstar

 

Progressive Metal

3.64 | 7 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marching Into Oblivion is the debut full-length studio album by American/ German progressive metal act Darkstar. Darkstar was a side-project initiated by Siggi Blasey ( Sequencing, Sampling) from German progressive metal act End Amen and guitarist Dan Rock from American progressive metal act Psychotic Waltz. Oliver Werner adds drums to the album and Martin Iordanidis plays the bass. The origin of Darkstar is like this: Dan Rock met End Amen vocalist/ guitarist Uwe Osterlehner during Psychotic Waltz 1992 european tour supporting their Into the Everflow (1992) album. Psychotic Waltz toured with German technical thrash metal act Deathrow who supported their Life Beyond (1992) album. Uwe Osterlehner was the guitarist in Deathrow. The End Amen project, which released only one album in 1992 called Your Last Orison, featured Siggi Blasey in the lineup and thatīs how Siggi Blaseyand Dan Rock met ( The close ties to the End Amen project are further strengthened when listening to the opening song on Marching Into Oblivion ( the title track) which share both samples and a few other ideas from the song End Amen from the Your Last Orison album). A couple of years later the two of them met again to record what was to become Marching Into Oblivion. Recorded in Germany in 1995 in a renovated WWII bomb shelter the album showcases the two musicians mutual interest in ambient and synth heavy progressive metal. Marching Into Oblivion was recorded while Dan Rock was still active in Psychotic Waltz. Hence the project status. I actually purchased my copy of the album at the Psychotic Waltz t-shirt stand on their 1996 tour to support Bleeding (1996). At the time Darkstar were ready to release their second full-length studio album Psychotic Waltz sadly were no more. On a sidenote Marching Into Oblivion is quite the rarity these days as it has long been out of print and I assume the original pressing was quite limited too.

The music on Marching Into Oblivion is as described above ambient and synth heavy progressive metal. A big part of the sound on the album include lots of samples and sequencing. The music is instrumental. Dan Rockīs guitar riff style from the two last Psychotic Waltz albums Mosquito (1994) and Bleeding (1996) do come to mind while listening to Marching Into Oblivion but the music is generally a bit more simple and repetitive than anything Psychotic Waltz ever made. The ambient influence brings me to think of artists such as Mike Oldfield and even Robert Miles. The music is generally very melodic. Even though this is progressive metal to some extent you shouldnīt expect adventurous rythms, complex song structures or too much heavy riffing ( itīs pretty heavy at times though). Instead this is atmospheric and melodic, quite repetitive yet very innovative and rather unique. Dan Rock is such an excellent and creative guitarist and his playing on this album is in his trademark style. Lots of use of the vibrato arm and sliding notes which gives the music a very floating sound. The sequencing and the extensive use of samples give the music a melancholic and at times very dark atmosphere. I love the sample from the Aliens (1986) movie, which are used in the title track, where Sigourney Weaver screams at the top of her lungs: "Bishop! God Damn You!". The song is so powerful. There are other samples from that movie in that song too. Confusion On A Grand Scale features several samples from the Jonestown incident and not only is it one of the heaviest songs on the album those samples really give the song an eerie feel. Other strong songs on the album are the dark ambient A New Beginning which have some repetitive tribal type drums. Itīs a very repetitive and ambient song but itīs full of dark atmosphere and greatly enjoyable to these ears. Alone is another strong track which is a powerful and melodic highlight IMO and of course the Darkstar song needs a mention too. While the synths, the sequencing and the samples work to perfection IMO and the virtuoso guitar playing ( always emotional, never using excessive force) by Dan Rock is the highlight on the album for me I canīt say the same about the rythm section. Quite frankly they play some really simple and repetitive rythms and that doesnīt suit my taste. Iīve learned to live with this minor issue but I can understand if newcommers would complain about this.

Travis Smith is responsible for the very time typical computer created cover artwork as he was on the Bleeding album by Psychotic Waltz. Thereīs an obvious sci-fi atmosphere in the songs which also shines through in the cover artwork.

The production is multilayered and intense. Again itīs the drums that cause problems though. I donīt enjoy the sound of the drums on the album at all and the bass is too low in the mix. It simply drowns in the multible layers of synth, sequencing, samples and guitars.

As Iīve pointed out Marching Into Oblivion isnīt a perfect album by any means, but minor issues aside the music is innovative and often beautifully dark ambient progressive metal. Darkstar have a unique sound and thatīs always a plus in my book. A 3.5 - 4 star rating is deserved. Had the rythm section produced some more interesting playing, this album would have gotten a clean 4 star rating. For fans of Psychotic Waltz this is of course a mandatory purchase, but on the other hand you should expect something very different going into this one.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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