A late review here, of an album from a genre rather rare on Archaic Triad. The self-titled debut of Black Yet Full of Stars is a prime example of nothing less than power metal. I had personally forgotten this genre existed, and mainly remember it as the scourge of many a teenage beerfest in the boy rooms of friends with cool parents. Even so, with Black Yet Full of Stars, I sit here with a fresh batch of precisely such music, from an American-Greek-Italian constellation.
After the Lord of the Rings soundtrack style intro, “Lightborn” kicks off, and it indeed sounds exactly as if power metal had a baby with power metal. The double kick drum beat, the epic synthesizers and the passionate vocals all incarnate everything typical of the genre. There’s an epic chorus, there are epic verses and – yes – there’s an epic solo. While this is a very suitable introduction to what lies ahead, as the album progresses we can note some aspects that saves the album from being a mere genre study.
Black Yet Full of Stars are not as happy-go-lucky as many other power metal bands. There are shades in the music, indeed (brief) moments when it’s rather dark. It is also harder than, say, Helloween. A few Maiden influences, and quite a lot of Manowar, rear their headbanging hairs at times. This includes the vocals, that have a bit more bite than the otherwise common castrato variety. The synthesizers are epic and massive, but they never go full Stratovarius. Rather, they punctuate the music with orchestra hits and dramatic melodies, overlaying a foundation of a more guitar driven and sometimes rough metal foundation. The drum sound is also just awesome, but unfortunately I can’t really analyze why that is the case.
Virtually every song has a chorus that sticks with you, but it is when we come to the lyrics and concept of the album that things get surprising. Simply put, they deal with things such as childhood, coming to terms with being who you are and understanding life. Fair enough, but somehow strange in relation to the music. The latter breeds dragon fire, or at least motorcycle fumes, and at least my brain struggles to put together developmental psychology with music that sounds like it should accompany a massacre of Orks. If you think about it, it does make sense, though. Life is a struggle, puberty is hell and all that. Furthermore, it is very original, which is certainly an asset in a genre that at least used to be over exposed and somewhat tired.
Black Yet Full of Stars has clearly shown that there is still some life in the old power metal serpent, and fans of the genre have no choice but to check it out. Others would do well to give it a fair hearing.