Black Bubbling Ooze
Pure Steel Records
8 out of 10
Written by Tim Duran
Four albums and five years is the count and I see no halt in the progression of the classic metal sound that Starblind brings. Four albums and five years is the length of time I have been following the mighty Starblind and their evolution. I think that’s what the title projects. A title taken from the chorus of a song off their first record (we’ll get to that detail later).
Two years or so ago, Marcus Olkerud took over vocals as Mike Stark went on to form Stormburner. Mike fronted during the Darkest Horrors and Dying Son days, and Marcus started for their third record Never Seen Again. An album that spoke volumes to me both musically and lyrically.
Here in the Ooze, Marcus takes a stab at some early Starblind tunes, J.J.’s old band , and a few newly written songs.
For those of you who are now just hearing of Starblind, their show of force is Marcus Olkerud on vocals, Daniel Yrell on bass, J.J. and Bjorn Rosenblad on rhythm and lead guitars, and ZakariusWikner who is the rumbling destruction in the flow of this Black Bubbling Ooze.
The record starts with the very groove oriented “One Of Us”. Daniel really lets loose on the bass fills here. This is a song for each and every metal head out there. We’re all the same. Metal knows no colour, race , gender, background, back story, or status. This is a call to come together as one and be one with the music no matter what anyone says, thinks, or proclaims.
Second song, first stab : “At The Mountain Of Madness” from the first album Darkest Horrors and first with Mike Stark on vocals. Here in these lyrics lye the title to this record. Marcus expresses a bit of passion and relates well to the song. The band does a little rearranging as far as tempo. It has more of a live feel to it this time around.
“Here I Am” kicks off speedily. Rhythmically, this one has an early Starblind feel to it. Maybe it’s because it’s from J.J.’s old band, “DANGER”. Tonally, it’s deep as the bass and drums overtake the mid range and beef it up. Vocally, it’s much more. Marcus has more power and more meaning in this performance. The tempo is a little faster and everyone seems to be having fun with this one.
Fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh song, and last stabs ,starting with “Crystal Tears”. This song is also from the Darkest Horrors record. The arrangement sort of keeps the same time as the original take. Daniel adds a nice down slide in the intro that’s missing from the original. Marcus is a little more breathy in the verses which is soothing to the ears before the bridge comes in and the solo drives the song a bit faster.
“The Man In The Crowd” and “Room 101” from Dying Son. The second record and last with Mike Stark. Both songs are more up-tempo from the original takes, the mix is better and Marcus takes advantage of both. As on “Mountain”, Marcus relates to these songs and doesn’t treat them as mere “covers”. These are Starblind songs, he’s the vocalist for Starblind, and so sings as though he was part of the writing procedure. I respect that. What I’m trying to say, is, he’s not just laying down vocal tracks just to get them over with. You can hear in his voice that he’s taking the time and effort to do the songs justice. So as for “Man In The Crowd”, it’s well done. As for “Room 101”, I really like the mix on this one over the original mix. Zakarius, thunders through this song a little more aggressively than the original and makes for a live feel as well.
The last oldie but goodie is “The Reckoning” from the Darkest Horrors record. I really like how the band got together and laid down new tracks for these older tunes. They just didn’t have Marcus sing over old tracks. They really made these songs new.
I think the only thing I don’t like is the choice of this particular song. I feel when the line, “Now awake the hero from his slumber”, isn’t in the right range. Marcus sings it in a lower tone. I liked the way Mike had a bit of a higher tone when he sang the word, “Slumber”. But everything else is righteous. The backing vocals in the chorus are spine chilling and I can’t get over the lyrics. It’s a powerful, meaningful song that I fell in love with the first time I heard it five years ago.
The last tune that bookends this record, “The Young Man”, rumbles with a strong bass line as it progresses into the main part of the first verse. It really ends this record off on a good note.
Downside is “The Reckoning”. Everything is perfect except for that line I spoke of earlier. I don’t know. It just didn’t sound right to me. Maybe I’m just used to Mike’s voice on that one.
Upside is as I mentioned, new tracks to old songs, fun and purposeful in the performance and vocals; and the two new songs; “One Of Us” and “The Young Man” are intense! Everyone locked in just like on Never Seen Again.
A few things I would have added would have been “The Land Of Seven Rivers Beyond The Sea” and “Blood Red Skies” from Dying Son, and “The Great Hunt” and “I Stand Alone” from Darkest Horrors. I really want to hear what Marcus can do with those tunes. Mainly because I’d put those puppies under a microscope!
Overall, I really like Black Bubbling Ooze for what it is. Pure performance. I appreciate that the title is from an early song. That speaks volumes to my heart.
I give this one a very loud 8. I would have liked one or two more originals to make for a longer record, but even with the older songs, they sounded new purely because they all made them with new tracks that were more lively and beefed up with tone and tempo.
Well done, my friends!
As for the readers, I challenge you to hear the evolution of Starblind, and hope that you just don’t hear this record all on its own. There’s Darkest Horrors, Dying Son, and Never Seen Again to be heard and enjoyed.
Check them out and buy stuff at www.Starblind.se
Hear them on Spotify …. But buy stuff at www.Starblind.se and Amazon.