Live From Öregrund by Star Of HeavenRelease date: November 8, 2023
It is fairly common for bands to road test new material before recording or releasing it, but I am not sure if I have experienced a band releasing the live recording of new material before the studio versions. In any case Swedish post-rock band Star Of Heaven has done just that and as well as displaying how well the songs work live it has also massively whetted my appetite to hear the next album. If you are a fan of any type of cinematic post-rock you need to give some time to this release.
Live From Öregrund is utterly breath-taking in its capture of five new songs and ‘The Harp’ which was released in 2021. Listening to the live recordings allows the chance to see that it’s not only my breath that is taken away, the audience is enthralled in silence and each note rings with a wonderful clarity which is so rare for a post-rock gig. The band plays a melodic and cinematic post-rock which flirts with both a classical sound, through the use of violin and keys but also a heavier edge with firm, bold drums and swelling guitars. The methods they use to create the music are by no means unique but the results are utterly mesmerising.
The gap between opener ‘Kyrie’ and ‘Kyrie II’ is fine the audience doesn’t even have time or note to applaud. With the naming of the songs this is probably by design and the first 16 minutes those two tracks occupy are perfect. The band uses some of the low swirl build of early This Will Destroy You and Mono without overt crescendos. There is plenty of release but it’s like a constant swell overflowing when it does reach that point multiple times in the tracks and the ending to ‘Kyrie II’ is particularly elevating.
Star Of Heaven uses silence and space as excellent tools to bolster minimalist work into mountainous emotives. The music has enough impact to grab your attention back if you have drifted away somewhere else while life still moves when the tracks are running. ‘Kyrie VII’ has that real Mono reach as crescendoing guitar scratches under the slowly plucking notes of other members before the drums start moving everything in an upward motion. It’s a classic trajectory but when it is done as well as this it is impossible to stop the overwhelming flow of massive walls of noise and soothing release.
As with most bands now in anything related to post-rock, Star Of Heaven hasn’t redefined the genre, if they or anyone else did it probably wouldn’t be post-rock anyway. What has been delivered is a sensational recording of some exemplary post-rock music played so beautifully the passion and intensity of the musicians pours through the strings, keys and drums effortlessly and is so ultimately rewarding for those that allow themselves the time to indulge.