WORDS: Tim Redman
KETZER have been making waves in the underground for a long time now. The band laid down its claim with 2009’s Satan’s Boundaries Unchained, a brilliant piece of Black/Thrash before following it up with the equally impressive Endziet Metropolis in 2012. Since then the band have signed to major label Metal Blade and it is clear that the band have begun to change their direction based off the artwork and titles alone. But do they continue to hold the essence of what made them so good to begin with?
The title track and opener Starless begins with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a pop punk album. Overlaid with a toned down version of the blackened vocal performance of previous albums it’s immediately apparent that this is a completely different KETZER. The track slows down and meanders along to a disappointingly dull conclusion. When The Milk Runs Dry is not exactly an inspiring title for a track and begins with a quiet guitar riff that goes on for far too long.
No such trouble for the following track Godface where at least the song manages to sound inspired rather than just going through the motions. While not immune to the criticisms that plague the album, this track is at least enjoyable to listen too. Coincidently it’s also the most similar to their previous records. Count To Ten starts slowly again and fails to build to anything. The lyrics are simply childish, counting off numbers is neither interesting nor a sign of impressive songwriting.
The Hunger is a less than a minute long quiet interlude which leads into the following track White Eyes. This track is a good metaphor for the entire album, which could be described as uninspired meandering or simply boring musically with lyrics that are no doubt meant to be esoteric and deep but which come across as pretentious. Shaman’s Dance continue this descent into pretention by running for over twice as long as it has any reason too. Featuring the now familiar slow start the track refuses to allow any sort of momentum to build, killing it off whenever a slightly faster riff is played and returning to the slow bass driven plod. Dull is a compliment.
Sound And Silence is another less than a minute long interlude, which falling where it does will not aid those struggling to remain interested after the previous track. When Earthborn does begin, it does so slowly. Shrieking guitars finally kick in only to be replaced for the majority of the remainder of the track by the same boring mid-paced material that made up the first two tracks. Limbo is hardly a redeeming closing track, instead just featuring the guitarists softly showing their range and skill. While enjoyable in that regard, it is hardly a KETZER song and certainly doesn’t deserve a place on a full-length record.
So do the band still have the essence that made them held in such high esteem by so many? Nope. Not even close. Instead of attempting to perfect their craft on this record KETZER have instead decided to release a soulless, uninspired album full of pretentious clichés that the record fails to justify the use of. Avoid this like the plague and buy the first two records instead.
Starless is set for release on January 29th via Metal Blade Records.