Full Album Stream + Interview: Stellar Descent – ‘The Future is Dark’

Anthony W. has done Stellar Descent for eight years now. While The Future is Dark is only Stellar Descent’s third full length, it is Stellar Descent’s tenth release and all of their releases—including their contributions to the numerous splits they’re a part of—could be considered full lengths, by most metal bands’ standards. Additionally, they’re all single-track albums!

That alone made me want to converse with Anthony W. Then I heard The Future is Dark and, admittedly, Stellar Descent for the first time. What continuously ignites my brain with blue spectral fire is how simultaneously restless and gorgeous Stellar Descent black metal sounds. Endurance isn’t the right word, but it’s not entirely wrong either. There is certainly a dedication required for enjoying this kind of monolithic and sprawling black metal. But it’s never daunting. Your dedication is rewarded once you cross a certain threshold.  

Out this Thursday on Sol y Nieve in CD and cassette formats, here is The Future is Dark.

Anthony, you’re still writing these epic single song albums, but how has your approach to writing and recording black metal albums changed since you released your demo six years ago?
I still just sit down and start making shit up as I go. I’ve very rarely had much more than one or two progressions in mind before recording.

But my recording process has evolved considerably. My projects are more organized now that I am collaborating with Jon. I am also more careful while recording, so there are fewer overt errors. And Jon persuaded me to have our music professionally mixed and mastered, which has been amazingly rewarding. Especially because I am just honestly bad at mixing and mastering.  

How was this album recorded? Did you produce it yourself?
Like everything I’ve recorded for this project: Alone in my room over a couple weekends or so. I used a cheap amp with built-in effects, my desktop computer and external audio interface, some multi-track recording software, and my electronic drum set. I produced a rough mix for our personal amusement. But we sent this to Déhá for mixing and mastering, and I honestly can’t even express just how much better he made it sound.

What is the meaning behind the title of this album, is it to say that the future is undecided, that the future is dismal and hopeless, or is it a little of both?
I wish there were something deeper behind the title. But it’s really just a very direct reflection of my worldview at this time. We are just now starting to get a glimpse of the destabilizing future that we can expect due human-caused climate change. And so the importance of global cooperation could not be more clear. And yet, we are seeing a surge in global reactionary authoritarianism and fascism. We are not rising to the challenge. We are shrinking from it. And we are shrinking from our responsibility to protect ourselves from paranoid and authoritarian personalities who cannot be trusted to refrain from starting global nuclear war.

Is this the first album to feature J. Rosenthal on bass? What made you decide to bring in a second person?
The “Second Sequence” split with Aylwin was the first album to feature Jon’s bass. But it hasn’t been physically released yet. He’s also contributed to multiple other yet-released albums. There should be quite a few new album announcements over the coming months.

We met at a show a few years back. I had followed his acoustic music before that, so it was exciting to meet him. And he turned out to be a fantastic person. I watched him perform and was blown away. And then some months later he posted on Facebook that he had some free time and was looking for a music project to contribute to. I immediately messaged him and I was luckily enough to snag him. It’s been a lot of fun working with Jon, and I feel like he’s really just made Stellar Descent so much better in every aspect.

What kind of life experiences were you going through when you wrote this album, and how do you think they affected the outcome of The Future is Dark?
The past couple years have really been dominated by the experience of watching our country and the world turn to nativism, isolationism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, and fascism. And this album was recorded during a time when I was consumed by it—something that is more and more common.

What do you hope listeners take from the experience of The Future is Dark?
I hope they dig it.