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DARKSTAR

Progressive Metal • Germany


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Darkstar biography
DARKSTAR is a progressive-metal band formed in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1996.

The band was formed as a side project for members of PSYCHOTIC WALTZ. During that band's 1991 Europe tour, guitarist Dan Rock and drummer Norm Leggio met German musicians Uwe Osterlehner (DEATHROW) and Siggi Blasey. A good friendship was born and they decided to embark on a recording project together.

The project,(END AMEN) was a short-lived idea. Years later, in 1995, PSYCHOTIC WALTZ once again toured Europe. Dan and Siggi met again and came up with the idea of making an instrumental album.

Pre-production was carried out in Dan's bedroom studio. In Siggi's mini-home studio they would also ellaborate the concepts, sounds, and atmosphere of the album. The real recording started soon after PSYCHOTIC WALTZ tour ended. It was done in an old World-War II bunker in Frankfurt, purchased and transformed into "Castle Of Lords Studio" by Siggi.

"Marching Into Oblivion" was DARKSTAR's first album. A few years later, DARKSTAR would release their secons and last album, "Heart of Darkness", in 1999. PSYCHOTIC WALTZ split-up soon after and so did DARKSTAR. There are no plans for a reunion of either band.

See also:

- Psychotic Waltz

Darkstar official website

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DARKSTAR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DARKSTAR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.65 | 12 ratings
Marching Into Oblivion
1996
3.49 | 9 ratings
Heart of Darkness
1999

DARKSTAR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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DARKSTAR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Marching Into Oblivion by DARKSTAR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.65 | 12 ratings

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Marching Into Oblivion
Darkstar Progressive Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars After the demise of the great Psychotic Waltz, every output from the individual members was anticipated with an almost holy fire. Unfortunately, none of the projects came near to what they created under the banner of the original band. Devon Grave's Dead Soul Tribe was lacking greatly in the musical department, Dan Rock's side-project Darkstar missed emotive power.

The album is not without merit though. At least if we try to forget that looming presence of Psychotic Waltz that comes spooking here with every wailing guitar tone that Dan Rock bends and weaves into his typical liquid patterns. The two opening tracks are great instrumental metal tracks, featuring rich guitar textures, solos and lots of dark cinematic ambience. Also the keyboards play a prominent role. They add context and atmosphere and refrain from obtrusive soloing. As a reference, the way Faith No More incorporated new wave-styled keyboards into metal comes to mind.

By the time Darkstar gets going, it's impossible to ignore that this album suffers from a number of deficiencies. The first is the similar approach to each track. The band lacks the compositional skill and imagination to step out of the pattern that is carved by the opening tracks. Even if a track like Gateway is a beautiful atmospheric piece by itself, the album becomes a bit of a drag. A second point that brings it down is the repetitive tempo of all tracks. The drumming is not only too monotonous but also lacks the groove to make repetition into something entrancing. As a lover of progressive electronic I can totally dig a 30 minute continuous pace in music, but only if it has the ardor to make it entrancing. That effect is never obtained here.

Overall this is a competent and attractive album with a unique dark melodious sound. With more attention to rhythm and dynamics it could have been a 4 star.

 Heart of Darkness by DARKSTAR album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.49 | 9 ratings

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Heart of Darkness
Darkstar Progressive Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars For their second album, Dan Rock and Siggi Blasey hired another rhythm section to complement the Darkstar ranks. The difference is hardly perceptible but the album still manages to avoid the problems of the debut: it has just enough dynamics and the song material is a lot more varied.

Dark Paradise sets a great synth ambience, supplemented with touches of piano, lead guitars and vocal samples. Especially on this track it reminds me of the instrumental side of Kevin Moore's Chroma Key. Flight To Nowhere adds more guitars and soloing on top or the typical solemn pace. And then the craved for variation happens. The drumming on The Sound of Nothing is hardly spectacular, but at least the pace is shifted up a gear. Not only that, this track features vocals, ranging between a melodious take on Ozzy's voice known from Psychotic Waltz and some aggressive rapping. A welcome change.

And the changes continue. If the debut album suffered from monotony, then this album is starting to get overloaded with style variations. Transitory Angel is almost an indie rock song, reminiscent of the shoegazer stylings of My Bloody Valentine or the Pale Saints. It doesn't make for a coherent listening experience but it's a nice track.

Infinite Distance and The Dream return to known Darkstar atmospherics, with just a bit more dynamics then the previous album. Good. The next instrumental, Look To The Sky sounds like a lost demo from Psychotic Waltz, like an unused backing track from Faded, another highlight on this album.

The acoustic opening from Not Today has vocals that sound very reminiscent to Alice In Chains' acoustic albums Sap/Jar of Flies. The melodies are very pleasant but the vocals are slightly insecure and might have benefited from some extra rehearsing. The album ends with the synth-focused Last Drop Of Light. The untitled track is nothing but the recording from a thunderstorm.

Heart Of Darkness marks some improvements over the previous album but sounds a bit hurried and shoddy at times, giving it the feel of a really good demo. 3.5 stars.

 Marching Into Oblivion by DARKSTAR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.65 | 12 ratings

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Marching Into Oblivion
Darkstar Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Marching Into Oblivion" is the debut full-length studio album by US/German progressive metal act Darkstar. The album was released through Institute Of Art Records in 1995. Darkstar is a project initiated by Siggi Blasey (Sequencing, Sampling) from German progressive metal act End Amen and guitarist Dan Rock from US progressive metal act Psychotic Waltz. Oliver Werner performs drums to the album and Martin Iordanidis plays the bass. Travis Smith is responsible for the very time typical computer crafted cover artwork as he also was on the "Bleeding (1996)" album by Psychotic Waltz. Thereīs a dark sci-fi atmosphere to the cover artwork (and the 20 page booklet), which suits the material featured on the album perfectly.

The origin of Darkstar is that Dan Rock vocalist/guitarist Uwe Osterlehner (Deathrow) 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. The two musicians formed the End Amen project, which released "Your Last Orison" album in 1992. End Amen also featured Siggi Blasey in the lineup and thatīs how Siggi Blasey and Dan Rock met (The close ties to the End Amen project are further strengthened when listening to the opening title track on "Marching Into Oblivion", which share both samples and a few other ideas from the "End Amen" track off the "Your Last Orison (1992)" album).

A couple of years later Siggi Blasey and Dan Rock formed Darkstar and recorded the material for 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, and it was sold from the merchandise stand on that actīs 1996 tour supporting "Bleeding (1996)".

The music on "Marching Into Oblivion" is as mentioned above ambient (occasionally touching new age territory) and synth heavy instrumental progressive metal. A big part of the sound on the album is the use of samples, synths, and sequencing. Dan Rockīs guitar riff style from the two Psychotic Waltz albums "Mosquito (1994)" and "Bleeding (1996)" do come to mind while listening to "Marching Into Oblivion" but the material on the album is generally a bit more simple and repetitive than anything Psychotic Waltz ever released. The ambient sound occasionally reminds me of artists like Mike Oldfield and Robert Miles. The music is generally very melodic, with dreamy and epic guitar themes and swirling spacey synths.

Although the music, at least to some extent, is progressive metal you shouldnīt expect adventurous rhythms, complex song structures, or too much heavy riffing (itīs occasionally pretty heavy though). Instead this is atmospheric and melodic, quite repetitive, yet very innovative and rather unique. Dan Rock is not only a technically highly skilled guitarist but also a very creative one, and his playing on this album is in his trademark style. Lots of use of the vibrato arm and sliding notes which give the music a laid back floating sound. The sequencing, and the extensive use of synths and samples, provide the music with a melancholic and at times relatively dark atmosphere.

The sample from the "Aliens (1986)" film, which is used in the title track, where Sigourney Weaver screams at the top of her lungs: "Bishop! God Damn You!", is very effective. There are also other samples from the film featured on that track. "Confusion On A Grand Scale" features several samples from the Jonestown tragedy, and not only is it one of the heaviest tracks on the album, those voice samples really give the song an eerie feel. Other standout tracks on the album are the dark ambient "A New Beginning" which have some repetitive tribal type drums. Itīs a very repetitive and ambient dark track, which works really well. "Alone" is another strong track which is a powerful and melodic highlight and the "Darkstar" track deserves a mention too.

While the synths, the sequencing, and the samples work to perfection, and the virtuoso guitar playing by Dan Rock elevates the music to an even higher level, I canīt say the same about the rhythm section. They quite frankly play some really simple and repetitive rhythms and bass lines, which arenīt that interesting. It sometimes sounds like the drums are an afterthought, and that not much creative hours have been put into creating the rhythm patterns. So if I have to mention a minor issue regarding "Marching Into Oblivion", itīs definitely that part of the album, which comes to mind.

The sound production is multilayered and quite intense. Again thereīs an issue with the drums though which features a sound which lacks dynamics, and which overall just doesnīt fit with the rest of the music. The bass is too low in the mix and simply drowns in the multible layers of synth, sequencing, samples and guitars. So "Marching Into Oblivion" isnīt a perfect album by any means, but the minor issues aside the music is still for the most part innovative and often quite beautiful dark ambient progressive metal. Darkstar have a unique sound and thatīs always a plus. Itīs the kind of album that can be used both as background music and as a more focused listening experience. So it features a good balance between pleasant atmosphere and intriguing complexity. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

 Heart of Darkness by DARKSTAR album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.49 | 9 ratings

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Heart of Darkness
Darkstar Progressive Metal

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

4 stars Even the initial impressions of this album can give a hint about what is included in the music: a beautiful, obscure cover by Travis Smith, inspired from a work originally by H.R. Giger... Heart of Darkness is the second, and unfortunately last, effort of this project of inspired musicians, which sounds a bit different from their debut. The main reason as described by Dan Rock himself on the official page was ''... the loss of a loved one to drugs, sadly added to the loss of my father in a car accident during the sessions''. Indeed, the sound of the album is covered with 'sadness' and 'grief', but also with even more weird melodies. To the latter, the presence of Brian McAlpin (guitars, ex-Psychotic Waltz) has assisted.

Contrary to their debut, this is not solely an instrumental album. The voices of 4 different vocalists on 3 songs break the 'monotony' (if you can find it here...) of the instrumental tracks. From these, Transitory Angel and Not Today represent the more melodic moments on the record, both being simple in structure but beautiful at the same time. The same happens with The Sound of Nothing which introduces some aggressiveness in the vocals and guitars sections, in the vein of Rage Against the Machine (!!!). The overall sound of the album could be described as 'innovative, experimental sci-fi prog metal'. This is more evident in the tracks where Dan Rock collaborates with Brian McAlpin, which, in my honest opinion, represent the highlights and could have easily been part of P. Waltz works... Flight to Nowhere, The Dream and Look to the Sky are brilliant moments of inspiration, comprising of excellent guitar work, double guitar ''dark winding long harmony solos'' and acoustic/keyboard intervals. All tracks are included in the Dark Millennium compilation, under the name of P. Waltz, which came out the same year.

The rest of the tracks are more keyboard-based, presumably deriving mainly from Siggi Blasey's ideas; not that impressive comparing to the compositions of the two guitarists, but still interesting and experimental, unveiling (yet again) influences from Mike Oldfield. Dark Paradise, the opening track is probably the most attractive of this category. There is also a ''hidden track'' at the end of the album, consisting of a telephone message (the message D. Rock's father left just before he died!) and almost 9 minutes of rain (!). This, along with the 'secret' postscript that D. Rock leaves to his loved one on the official P. Waltz page, make this album a painful, deep, real-life experience; it makes it harder when you know the whole story behind a record.

Musically slightly more complete and more mature than Marching Into Oblivion, I would clearly recommend this album for a first experience with Darkstar to everyone interested in experimental prog-metal. Fans of P. Waltz probably have it in their collection already, with one way or another...

 Marching Into Oblivion by DARKSTAR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.65 | 12 ratings

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Marching Into Oblivion
Darkstar Progressive Metal

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

4 stars I consider myself lucky to have both Darkstar albums in my possession for a couple of reasons: both records are out of print (rare to find at the moment) and the fact that I am a huge fan of Psychotic Waltz i.e. anything that the band or its former members are involved in lies within my interest areas. Marching Into Oblivion is the first effort of Dan Rock's (guitars, Psychotic Waltz) side project with Siggi Blasey. The recording has taken place during the times that P. Waltz were still active and this is evident from the number of constructive and inspiring ideas flowing throughout the album and the similarities to albums like 'Bleeding'.

Side project instrumental albums are often treated with suspicion, and this album could not have been the exemption to the rule. Carrying over his obvious, distinct playing from previous recordings to this album, Dan Rock incorporates a number of different elements to make this a one-of-a-kind effort. The sound is influenced by late Queensryche but also Mike Oldfield's works (!) and this proves the diversity in the final result. Numerous samplers are included to 'dress' the album with a 'modern' atmosphere, despite the simplicity in the structure and the use of instruments. There are not many sophisticated parts that would compare to early P. Waltz works, but there are several magnificent, melodic compositions that make the project's first effort to stand out in my discography.

There is a lot of sequencing involved and it is obvious that this recording is not about 'crystal' production and accurate virtuosity, but a mixture of some excellent concepts, mainly from Dan Rock and, at a lesser extent, Siggi Blasey. The majority of ideas derive from the guitar riffs, with the keyboards contributing to the final, often melancholic and less often aggressive, outcome. Fans could easily pick out the similarities in the guitar work between this recording and the last two P. Waltz albums. Whilst the majority of the tracks is following a more-or-less similar pattern, the only one that can make you feel uninterested is A New Beginning, consisting of a slow tribal rhythm and a repetitive sample. Overall, I consider this a 'hidden' gem of experimental/prog metal.

Putting my best effort to escape my subjective views, this is essential for P. Waltz fans and a worth-mentioning inclusion to your prog-metal discography.

Thanks to The T for the artist addition. and to CCVP for the last updates

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