STELLAR TEMPLE – Domestic Monster
I'm not really the kind of guy who enjoys listening to more or less classic Rock bands in his free time, except for some linked to the Progressive and the Alternative panoramas, but I must say that this debut album from the French band Stellar Temple hit me extremely hard and, frankly, I didn't see it coming. I honestly have to admit that I underestimated their work, thinking that I would have been listening just to some ordinary rock… Oh, how I've been wrong?
The band, founded only three years ago, manoeuvres with its "Domestic Monster" through a quite non-homogeneous — maybe a little too much — mixture of pushed and aggressive Rock, seemingly coming from the Seventies and the Eighties, getting back into those typical Hard Rock grooves ("Fucking Miles Away") as into some Blues-flavoured riffing and soloing ("My Gun", "Almost"). Sometimes these guys take inspiration from the Dark Side of the Force, too: vocal and rhythm patterns from Stoner ("Strange Dreams" o "Rumours"), occasional Southern harmonica parts ("Ouverture"), some good ideas from Grunge ("So Beautiful", "Better Behave Like A Rat In The Box") and even unforeseen Progressive elements — like choir and synthesisers in "Under The Morning Sky" and such a strongly effected guitar in "Helly Days" that I mistook for a sitar, at first. Also, there are various Electronic traces disseminated all over the disc, sometimes not even in plain view.
Among the good features of these Frenchmen's work there's a totally solid technique, as they indeed have mastered the genre they've chosen. The singer's voice, on his side, is worth to be highlighted for it is characteristic of the sound of the band, with both his clean and harsh vocals that even turn into scream (as in "Rumours"), picking up where the great ones of classic and modern Rock have left. On the other hand, the six strings' performance is more than satisfying, varied and variegated, very sharp on both rhythm and solo, while drums and bass create a perfect base structure which supports and sustains this mystical pastiche, still reserving themselves some room for both recurring drums decorative details and a brief bass solo.
The group wisely and fearlessly navigates through the above mentioned various shades of Rock, using, reworking and bringing them back up in forms that look always different: starting from the Eighties-like coolness of "Fucking Miles Away" and "My Gun", they then move onto some harder, Nineties-shaped "Strange Dreams" and "So Beautiful" in order to finally arrive, with "Under The Morning Sky", "Rumours" e "Helly Days", to some more modern, progressive and almost experimentalish sounds.
There's nothing to add: this "Domestic Monster" proved itself to be truly surprising! Misjudging this album released by Stellar Temple has been a very, very big mistake of mine, so I warmly suggest you not to underestimate it as I did: it would blow you away!