Celldweller: Wish Upon A Blackstar

By Stefan Walczak

Celldweller a.k.a. Klayton, has been around since the early 2000’s and making music since the mid 90’s. The Detroit native’s multi-instrumental talents help to define his multi-textual, genre blending form of hard rock, trance and electronic dance music, which has since gained a cult following. Klayton’s newest release and his second album under his Celldweller alias, Wish Upon A Blackstar, aims to grab the listener and pull them into a dazzling collage of musical expressions. With a hard-hitting electronic/metal edge, Celldweller’s Blackstar succeeds in doing just that.

Wish Upon A Blackstar was slowly released in 5 chapters since 2009 but was in production as early as 2004. After a full listen through, it becomes clear why it took so long to create. The album is a densely packed, sonic experience. It is common to hear a track flip into a different genre mid-song. Par example, “Unshakeable” kick starts with a blissful drum’n’bass buildup, then plateaus into futuristic vocals. The track does not end there–there is another buildup into a dubstep verse. Other songs, such as “Eon,” opens with a fiery nu-metal fervor and breaks down into a trance segment three quarters through. “I Can’t Wait” defines itself as a slick drum’n’bass number with futurist industrial/dancehall vibes. “Gift For You” has the darker, trip-hop feel throughout that gives the atmosphere and energy that almost sounds as if Massive Attack did a collaboration with Maynard James Keenan. “The Lucky One” is a great stadium rock anthem that ventures into an even more creative hip-hop/electronic breakdown. As all of these songs steadily play out one by one, it becomes apparent the necessity for Wishing Upon A Blackstar to be experienced as a whole. The ride from beginning to end is an aural assault and musical conquest through valleys of different, yet related subgenres of electronic dance music, melding with elements of nu-metal and hard rock. The final product has a shining quality, with a masterful touch on production that only improves Blackstar with repeated listens.

Celldweller’s lyrics are also something worth noting, as his lyrical themes of a future world with love, loneliness, anger, and all of the intricacies in between, are sung with a heartfelt and compelling angst. According to Klayton’s official website for Celldweller, Blackstar is a concept album with lots of the same running themes that can be heard throughout. Klayton has said that there is an overall moral to the story: be careful what you wish for. For anyone who is a fan of electronic dance music, progressive/hard rock, or any music that combines multiple genres and styles, Wish Upon A Blackstar delivers a most impressive musical journey that will continue to surprise and leave listeners in awe long after the songs leave their mark.

Rating: 9.2/10