Let's just go through the list and get my fellow synth fetishists all warmed up: Korg MS 20, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Prophet 12, Roland Juno 60, Korg Monotron Delay and a Nebulophone mini ribbon synth. Okay, I know it's all about how you use that equipment but I can tell you they get used to full effect, without ever being too in-your-face. Subtlety wins in this case. Well done.
But synths alone do not make an album of course. I have to admit that I am not familiar with the first 2 albums by them, so I came into this without any preconceptions. The promo states that Stellar Master Elite should appeal to fans of Darkspace, Thorns and Satyricon and for once I'm going to take the easy way out and say that that is pretty much bang on. Although I will add to that a healthy dose of sci-fi movie soundtrack influences. I can hear some of the grandeur of the Blade Runner soundtrack seeping into 'Hologram Temple' for instance. Darkspace and Thorns might be good references to describe the sound but Stellar Master Elite have a very distinct sound that radically differs from those bands. They are not afraid to go for some all-out, almost black 'n roll tracks, like 'The First Principle'. I guess that would the Satyricon reference taken care of then. And for a German band they have quite a bit of the typical modern French black metal sound as well.. Which is never a bad thing, I might add.
That's the cool thing about this album. The whole thing shifts nicely between its influences, although the general focus is that of modern, accessible black metal. It sounds appropriately heavy, like this kind of black metal should. Vocals range from an almost death metal grunt to rasping black metal growls, guitars have just the right amount of crunch and buzz to them, the variety of drums is there, it all just feels right. Sure, there are elements that I personally could have done without. Like the a-bit-too-Teutonic-sounding clean vocals in 'Perdition Time Loop'. All in all it is a well-produced, heavy sounding beast of an album that will most likely take the first prize in the (invented on-the-spot) category of 'most awesome use of awesome analogue synths in a black metal album' this year.