|Musical Style: Cosmic Doom||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Twin Earth||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: Starchild|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 40:25|
Initially forming in 2002 but not putting out the doom-laden sounds of its self-titled debut until a year later, Waycross, Georgia based Starchild signed with Twin Earth Records prior to releasing its very fine sophomore effort Born Into Eternity. The album finds this able power trio continuing to chart the waters of cosmic doom territory, delivering a stoner edged sound certain to appeal to fans of Place Of Skulls, Trouble, Goliath, Troglodyte Dawn, Faith and last, but certainly not least, Black Sabbath. A mostly mid-tempo environment prevails here, a trend upheld on the plodding sounds of “Bride” and “Earthless” in addition to the gripping creativity of “Behold” and the albums seven minute title track. A high caliber up-tempo number can be penned by Starchild as well in that “Rising Star” and “Eternal Summer” – two pieces standing out with their catchy hooks – rank among the better compositions on Born Into Eternity.
Vocalist and guitarist Richard Bennett proves the driving force behind Starchild. Showcasing an even vocal style with a smooth sounding touch, Bennett stays mostly in mid-octave territory (and reflecting a slight Ozzy feel in the process), a range that fully complements the bands heavy duty doom-laden sound. And despite a few shaky moments – he can sound somewhat strained when going for a high note – his performance is quite solid. As a guitarist, Bennett puts in place layer upon layer of gritty rhythm guitar, dispensing an abundance of riffs that are mostly of a mid-tempo variety but can head in a catchy if not groove flavored direction as well. The majority of the albums instrumental sections, likewise, are shared by a balanced blend of rhythm guitar and very well done bluesy lead guitar. The monstrous rhythm section of drummer Frank Sikes and bassist Kenneth O’Bara, at the same time, takes no prisoners in laying the firm bedrock for the bands sound to rest upon.
Production values reflect a slightly muddy feel. No, nothing detracting or that will take away from your listening experience, but I cannot help but think things would have improved with just the slightest touch of refinement.
As for the albums packaging, I enjoy the psychedelic feel to the album artwork but nowhere does it make mention of the members of the band. And no liner notes either.
Lyrically, Born Into Eternity proves a clean and positive effort that strays towards the spiritual side of things. By no means “bold” or “forthright” in their approach, the lyrics throughout, particularly “Earthless”, “Eternal Summer” and “Behold”, are clearly reflective of Bennett’s faith.
Commencing the album to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Bride” gives rise to a pleasing, melodic feel as it slowly but steadily trudges through its first and only verse. The sweeping instrumental section that follows is shored up by a combination of plodding rhythm guitar and bluesy lead work. A very nice, low key way to get things going.
The catchy “Rising Star” stands out as one of the albums more up-tempo tracks. A bouncing guitar riff efficiently propels the song through its first and second verse, the emphatic setting upheld as it obtains a chorus reflecting a determined but hook filled ambience. I enjoy the creative imagery to the lyrics here:
Nice and easy
The horizon grows
A rising star is here to fight shadows
It glows, it glows
Delighting vision that enlightens the blind
With eyes on fire
“Love” plods along mournfully from the start, laboring through its verse portions prior to breaking out with a deluge of initiative for a chorus guaranteed to pull you in with its all out assault of poignant energy. An all around good hard rocker with a noteworthy hook and just the right amount of draw you in appeal.
An acoustic guitar carries the instrumental “World Without End” its brief (1:04) distance.
“Earthless” is another mid-tempo plodder that steadily toils from start to finish, treading a desolate path of melancholy on its way to a chorus of the downtrodden and drudging variety. The intensity level briefly picks up for a rhythm guitar driven instrumental section. If this is not doom then I do not know what it is! What we have here is another track which is quite solid from a lyrical standpoint:
Around the world tonight
Spinning satellite eyes
Burning up the sky
Drifting into the sun
Into open arms
Where I am the child
Healed and home again
“Will You”, another short piece at just 1:42, is driven through its only verse by a floating wall of chugging rhythm guitar. Short and too the point but effective as well.
“Bleed” slowly fades in over its first minute before picking up in pace and taking off in a lively manner. The song proceeds to quickly navigate its first and only verse, a melody filled setting put in place as it rushes ahead to an instrumental section sustained by several seconds of very well done bluesy guitar leads. “Bleed” repeats its verse only to close to some heavy duty guitar riffs.
I would place the up-tempo “Eternal Summer” among the albums better tracks. Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar gets things going before Bennett steps forward and twice states, “You pull the wool right over my eyes”. Soaring through its first and second verse in near sublime fashion to an edge-laden riff, the song makes an even transition to an extensive rhythm guitar driven instrumental section.
“Behold”, on the other hand, returns the pace to a more mid-tempo direction. The song leisurely crawls its way forward from the start, a worshipful feeling exuded as it gradually circumvents its first verse:
Great God of heaven
Behold through windows to the soul
Flowers are growing
And everyone knows when it is time
Seasons are changing
And giving us all peace of mind
An instrumental section carried by a gritty rhythm guitar ensues before “Behold” closes to its second verse as the band delivers more truth:
Hold me to truth
You bring me
While you sing a stairway to heaven
Were forgiven I’m told
Show me forever
And return me to the fold
The albums extensive title track is another plodder that begins ominously as Bennett sings over a choppy open air rhythm guitar. Once the rhythm section kicks in, however, the song builds in momentum as it moves through a sweeping chorus in which a portent but melodic environment is put into place. A doomish instrumental section closes out the final two minutes to “Born Into Eternity”.
All in all, Born Into Eternity proves a consistent effort in that each of its compositions delivers that extra hook, riff or burst of energy that would allow them to hold up under repeated play. When factoring in the creativity of vocalist/guitarist Richard Bennett and the forceful rhythm section of Sikes and O’Bara, you are faced with a can't miss scenario. The only potentially detracting factor is a production job that could use a bit of polish. Still, fans of doom, stoner, groove and classic metal fill find a home here.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Bride” (4:06), “Rising Star” (4:34), “Love” (3:33), “World Without End” (1:04), “Earthless” (5:30), “Will You” (1:42), “Bleed” (4:00), “Eternal Summer” (4:04), “Behold” (4:51), “Born Into Eternity” (7:01)
Richard Bennett – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Kenneth O’Bara – Bass
Frank Sikes - Drummer