Pilgrims Against the Flux
CoC chats with StarGazer
by: T. DePalma
After a promising split release in 1999, Australia's esoteric voyagers StarGazer returned this year with their debut full length _The Scream That Tore the Sky_, a mercurial work that blends thrash, death and black metal with considerable acumen and execution regarding its progressive tint and instrumentation. Featuring what is to most Westerners obscure artwork and themes, drawn from often misunderstood thinkers, the album is a multi-layered trek into ancient traditions, imagination and the vast possibilities of both. Vocalist and guitarist The Serpent Inquisitor recently shared the following locutions with CoC on the band's future endeavors and aural sorcery.

CoC: Greetings. Could you please give a history of Stargazer's formation and the participants involved?

The Serpent Inquisitor: It can be done, yes, but to some chagrin and condensed! StarGazer was borne somewhat from the ashes of ill-fated Intellect Devourer (circa 1992-1994). Although I was drummer / lyricist for thus said band, due to my habit of writing music, I began StarGazer on guitar / vocals, alongside the drummer / vocalist Paul Murphy. Damon, from Mournful Congregation, then joined on bass guitar -- an instrument he had had no intention to play previously, which is grand irony at work, considering he is one of the most skilled and creative players in this metal scene today! Anyways... We also retained a second guitarist, whom was present on our earlier records, thus appearing on the _Borne_ 7", yet he was ousted soon thereafter. Paul Murphy, though being an awesome drummer and creative mind, was also full of other traits which came to affect issues of trust and reliability, was told to leave during 1997. We then enlisted Matt Butt (Beyond Mortal Dreams, Darklord), with whom we spent the next three years working with, recording for the split-CD (with Invocation). It was the year 2000 when the calculated agreement was made for us to part ways with Matthew, as his heart of hearts lay in less complex, brutal death metal. This was fair. Since then, I have been playing drums on all recordings, which is not the way we would have it surely, but I do it through necessity!

CoC: You had originally planned to have _The Scream That Tore the Sky_ out in 2000. What caused the delay?

TSI: A lack of drummer and record label! We had decided to record despite having not inked a contract, and obviously I learnt these old tracks and added my pinch of percussive salt. Also, due to the high expense of the studio we chose, the costs between us were exorbitant; therefore some tyme to save the appropriate currency was needed.

CoC: Both the lyrics and music for much of the album were originally conceived almost ten years ago, yet there are many differences between the full length and the StarGazer / Invocation split CD that features songs dated around the same time. What kind of development has the band gone through since then?

TSI: That exemplifies the diversity of material we harbored even back then. I strongly believe that if we had opted for a cleaner production as that on _The Scream That Tore the Sky_ for _Harbringer_, the progressive chasm would not seem so vast at all. The music writing has splayed in a fashion; not moved "forward", but in many different directions, as is heard even in the formative tymes. Many bands tend to move in one direction only, when there is seeming "progression", but what would that entail? Faster blast beats? Cleaner production, shredding solos? All that is still subject to objectivity! We have simply written unique songs which move in many ways, like branches from the Oaken trunk, each seeking their own way to sun their leaves.

CoC: Do you still have material from this period that you're saving for future releases?

TSI: Hahaha. Well, the next album will still feature material from about 1997 onwards, but yes, we have a couple of tracks spare ("Final Winter Kiss" and "Ride the Everglade of Reogniroro"), from 1994, I believe. Two of such had been recorded during the _Scream_ sessions ("The 69th Maggot" and "Infernal"), and are supposed to appear on the vinyl version of _Harbringer_ this year, through Agonia Records.

CoC: The new record sounds like an amalgam of styles that have been explored in other projects. How many bands are you and The Great Righteous Destroyer playing in respectively?

TSI: Some of those projects have expired at this time of writing, some are indefinitely on hold, we still do a bit of session work here and there. For example, I performed drums on the latest Myrdraal album, _Falling Sky_ -- which, putting aside my inclusive bias, is a great, epic black metal album which due to label closure has gone relatively unnoticed. I also play drums and render structure for another project called Tzun Tzu of which a demo shall be ousted through Dissident Records. Active bands: four each. All quite different, most of them metal, but we also have a project which is slowly turning into a band called The Esoteric Connexion, which so far is instrumental fusion of sorts; soundtrack music, maybe. We both animate StarGazer, and The Great Righteous Destroyer still operates Mournful Congregation. We both had been part of Martire from about 1997, whom has the first and last album _Brutal Legions of the Apocalypse_ to be released through Nuclear War Now Productions. That's noteworthy, as Martire was begun in 1986 and did the first demo in 1988! We both also played in an obscure black metal band, Misery's Omen, which has an album almost mixed and ready for release. There are also a couple of other bands we wish to remain generally anonymous to.

CoC: From an outside perspective, Australia seems to be, along with Canada, one of the few places where bands are trying to exert creative energy into metal without sounding like clones of their influences. Your country also seems to have a rich awareness of the genre's history. What is your own view of the Australian scene today?

TSI: That is the consensus, is it? I suppose maybe the vast distances between states leaves isolation to work some magick. Australian metal bands are fighters, with considerably less ego than international counterparts. We have to work together to degrees. Asides that, there is a knit of underground warriors whom pull together when the time is valid; but as a fan / listener, I find very few bands to be truly interested in and whom are making a real goal to push the metal scene out of this ever encroaching clone mire. When I hear Canada mentioned, I only think of Disciples of Power... genius.

CoC: _The Scream That Tore the Sky_ is an image intense album draped in the vibrant color of Eastern artwork and meticulous arrangement of symbols like the Ouroboros, swastika and Jinn lamp. Even the layout of the lyrics appears to form the image of a star in the center of the booklet. To match this, there are several quotations from Theosophical texts and radical thinkers such as Gandhi found within. How are these images and words reconciled in your own philosophy?

TSI: It is impressive that you noted the myriad contexts from which we draw. Cheers! Our musick could be said to be of the same ilk. By and large, we are Theosophists, in a non-committal fashion. We accept no philosophy of truth as the One and only truth, for there are many, all spawned of an older source. Often those whom tie down to singular philosophies are drawn to such through cultural influence, whether this life, or previous lives. Other determinations are from experience, whether negative or positive. StarGazer is exclusively "non-affiliated" despite all the offers and attempts at classifications. If the story of Jesus in the Old testament can be traced to older and parallel sources, such as Mithra Religion, many thousands of years before commonly accepted Christ, and then Krishna, Satan, Buddha the same, where does the truth start and end? Do we want miracles and/or history? Some say the Journey is paramount, not the destination. But many crave Destination, in fact it is a control mechanism for those who learnt to wield, and it is apparent today in so many guiles. We chose to identify these and step away from the ascetics, just to observe maybe. It is through this method we have grown into multifarious personalities, musicians and creators. Pilgrims against the Flux.

CoC: Within the interior of the CD booklet is a photograph of a man adorned with warlike, extravagant decoration of imposing size compared to his body. He is holding a staff and bow with arrows and a sword propped readily by his side. Can you explain what culture he belongs to and what does this dress signify?

TSI: That is a Lama of the Red Hat Sect, a spiritual warrior of sorts, one who dispels demons and deceivers through might of arms, prayer and inner fortitude. Tibetan.

CoC: Have you based the lyrics on actual Eastern myths and stories?

TSI: No, not at all. It seems thus far many have made simple assumptions on our lyrical content due to our choice of art! My imagination is excitable and always spurning, so I need no formal formats to draw from.

CoC: What does StarGazer have planned for the future?

TSI: We are still tryalling drummers, and we are nearing a goal and some firm decision making shall ensue in the next few months. The results will decide whether we do a tour, probably European tour, or getting to the serious business of the next album _Great Work of Ages_. Drum tracks are written for most songs, and this tyme I am more prepared for the workload! Then there is still the matter of gytaar and voyce! We also await the gatefold vinyl version of _The Scream That Tore the Sky_ and the vinyl _Harbringer_, which does not bear Invocation on the other side, but it does have some rare tracks from 7"s which require new ears. Then full color shirts of the album cover!

CoC: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. The last word is all yours...

TSI: Surely it is, and I shall waste the opportunity...

(article submitted 18/8/2005)

6/27/2005 T DePalma 9 StarGazer - The Scream That Tore the Sky
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