Discovering music in the 21st century is much different than it was in the 20th century. Instead of having to sit by the radio waiting for the DJ to announce the name of the song you just heard, you can discover anything you want at the click of a button on your computer. This is both a wonderful advancement in modern technology for those who want everything and they want it now as well as a detriment to those who are too lazy to search the virtual library of literally everything that was ever created. But, with the benefit of having literally everything at our fingertips, it has been made possible to listen to as many albums as time permits. The only restriction is our willingness to search (well, and time). With that, we are often quick to deem an album a masterpiece, often times before the album has even been released in a physical format!
Ok, so fine, in the 21st century we get ahead of ourselves and get overexcited when something great comes along. It's not often that a true masterpiece graces our presence. To be fair, only time can truly dictate whether or not something is a masterpiece. Expectations play a large role in our initial opinions, and what may seem wonderful at first may wear thin after a week, a month, a year. When is it acceptable to declare an album a masterpiece? A classic? An album that will stand the test of time, even though we don't want to wait for the test of time to actually run its course?
Well, perhaps I shouldn't be the one answering this obviously rhetorical question. I've been known to hyperbolize from time to time.
Having said that, The Art Of Navigating By The Stars by the German outfit, Sieges Even, is a fucking masterpiece. Sure, I've only just discovered this album a month ago and only listened to it four or five times, but I just know it, it's a fucking masterpiece. Within the first two minutes of my first listen I knew I was in for something special. The utter beauty hit me right away and every song somehow managed to be more gorgeous than the last. And then I listened again. And again. And now I find the chorus of the second track, "The Weight", stuck in my head at all times. I crave this album. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is I love most about it but I just know that when I'm listening to something else, I get mad at myself and wonder why I'm not listening to it. Perhaps it's the smooth, chill vocal approach from Arno Menses. Or perhaps it's the subtle, yet brilliant guitar work from Markus Steffen. Or maybe it's the coherent themes that connect each song, with everything coming full circle in the final track, "Styx", with a reprise of the chorus from "The Weight". Whatever it may be, there is some overwhelming power this album holds over me that is drawing me back for more listens.
It's difficult to pick one song from the album to highlight, but the song that hit me harder than the rest on my most recent listen was "Lighthouse". This song perfectly captures the mood of the entire album. It contains some fantastic vocal and guitar melodies, but the real highlight here is the guitar part that begins at the 3:45 mark. Call me a sucker for acoustic guitar solos (which I most certainly am), but I just lose my shit anytime I hear something like this. I don't need technicality or flashiness - I just need a few beautiful notes and I'm set. The brief acoustic guitar part leads into a 15 second heavenly flute bit which then leads back into one of the main guitar riffs (which is also beautiful!). Every part flows into the next so perfectly, which can be said for every song on the album. Come to think of it, the one aspect that draws me to this album more than anything is the flawless songwriting.
This song is brilliant. This album is brilliant. Is it crazy of me to declare this album a masterpiece after only several listens? Perhaps, but I don't care. Right now, this is greatness to me.