Drops of Heart - Stargazers
Self released
Progressive Melodic Death Metal / Metalcore
12 songs (63'13")
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Alex

Young Russian band Drops of Heart is a perfect example of what role genre assignment may play in your perception of music. (To be more precise the band is from Ufa, Bashkortotstan, and calls the capital of that steppe region of Russian Federation home). Take Drops of Heart latest album Stargazers. If you hear a notion of metallic hardcore or metalcore at least in the slightest pertaining to the band sound, and that makes you not touch the output with a 10-foot pole, then you might just do that with Stargazers … and miss out on a very much worthwhile piece of music. If you are willing to accept melodic death metal to have keyboards, progressive angles, breakdowns and modern attitudes, you may stumble into something you will unexpectedly find pretty good. Call me the latter, as I kept an open mind towards Stargazers and enjoyed it quite a bit.

The album opens in a bang-bang fashion. The first pair of tracks, Echoes and Frost Grip, are very properly positioned by Drops of Heart to rope the listener in. Both Echoes and Frost Grip introduce three-dimensional voluminous sound, where both synthetic keyboards and heavily downtuned guitars find their places, interspersed with fast thrashy bouncy riffs you can find on Soilwork or Callenish Circle earlier albums. Excellent sound quality, obvious melodic twists to the songs, as well as very lively, often changing, drum beats, help to create favorable first impressions. Massive chorus hooks and excellent Russian lyrics (it helps to understand what the guys are saying) delivered using a standard genre mix of some clean/some gruff vocals, combined with a progressive cosmos theme, complete the picture and get you in the mood. Soilwork, Shadows Fall and Beyond the Embrace fans will find a lot to like on Stargazers.

Drops of Heart are good technical musicians and they endeavor on complex time signatures with syncopated Knot and Escapist, piano touches and all. Yet soupy breakdowns (Knot) and embellished vomit vocals through vocoder (Lull) are some of the elements that detract. Knot turns into a meandering prog (something you don’t want on an hour+ long album) and Lull has “too much fucking emo”, if I am allowed to quote Katatonia here. The band does best when it maintains its balance between dark and dreamy, with rapid beats and melodic sidesteps (Starlight, Exodus and Discoverers which is really unrelenting in terms of its blast/double bass interchange). Saxophone sound in the middle of Death Lover is truly unexpected moment which also goes over well and cements this band’s progressive approach. In spots the band abandons the thrash riffing altogether and goes for a dark, keys-laden, emotional and icy at once, modern Dark Tranquillity sound (Coffin), and the result is quite impressive.

Throughout the album, and aided by excellent philosophical Russian language lyrics, I constantly sensed an album depicting personal search and struggle equally positioned within one’s sole yet playing out in a vast universal space. I wouldn’t be surprised if guys from Drops of Heart have official music education. Maturity and quality of sound displayed by Drops of Heart was surprising. These attributes went a long way towards me liking Stargazers more and more with each repeated listen. Truthfully, there were some tracks I would still skip, which probably means the album is a little too long, but it has a definitive signature and leaves a mark.

Killing Songs :
Echoes, Frost Grip, Coffin, Exodus
Alex quoted 82 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
View and Post comments