A band‘s name is sometimes more important than normal people like to think. Of course it‘s not difficult to find a name Whitey Carey or Pariah Houston, but who knows the meaning behind Boysetsfire or Satyagraha (if you know which band I am referring to with the second name, then we will have shared school days together!). Sometimes it can also purvey a sense of what is to come, for example Grindcrusher. Or: A Diadem of Dead Stars.
A Diadem of Dead Stars from Greece has chosen a name that is perfect for this meandering Blackgaze project which is as much Skyforest as it is Wolves in the Throne Room: Of course, a star is a shining, bright thing in the sky, which we can aspire to, with all its power and force we are basically drawn to it. A dead star, on the other hand, is something much more dangerous, as it will not only draw everything to it in its progression towards being a supernova, but nothing will come out of it alive. Its density is too extreme for anything to survive too close or within it. Additionally, a diadem is one of those beautiful pieces of artistry worn by women. So we basically got two shiny elements and two very dark elements – which can be applied to the music on the compilation Emerald Sunsets as well.
The four tracks, spanning more than 27 minutes, are a wonderful example of modern Blackgaze, or Atmospheric Black Metal if you prefer that term. The way that the Pilgrim, the only member of A Diadem of Dead Stars, transports his musical vision into songs is really mesmerizing and has a certain pull-effect on the listener (remember, dead star = supernova?!). The way the songs, especially the first two, alternate between wild, thumping thunder and clementine crescendos is simply superb and does not have to hide itself because of any comparison thrown at it.
When we recognize the fact that the Pilgrim recorded these four songs during the pandemic (and published them on three different releases), then we once must admit that this damn virus surely had a few good sides. Even more amazing is the coherence within the four tracks which were written and recorded during different moments/phases of these plague-ridden years. It sounds as if they all were supposed to form this compilation record, which also shows an amazing painting, this one by Jules Breton, from the middle of the 19th century. The painting depicts the hardships of living out in the country having to rely on the results of your farming efforts, and one may see the hardships we all had to endure in these last years.
The way the Pilgrim uses Black Metal, near-Gregorian chants, field recordings, Post-Rock elements, vocal samples and much more is so effective, so intriguing, so enchanting that one surely forgets that this is nothing new – because the class and style with which it is presented here is nothing short of amazing. One can only hope that he used the lockdown periods a little bit more so that we do not have to wait too long for another record by one of those bands whose title is as enchanting as its music!