Minor Stars is a psych rock trio from Chapel Hill, NC. Strong songwriting meets heavy rhythms, fuzzed-out guitars, and soaring vocals to create music that bristles with energy and refuses to stand still. From the ’70s rock swagger of T. Rex and Led Zeppelin to the quiet intimacy of Elliott Smith and The Bends-era Radiohead, Minor Stars focuses these divergent rays and projects them with a reverence for the proto-metal heaviness of Black Sabbath. It’s stadium rock for introverts, a distinctive sound that has a “wonderful kind of brutality” (Scott Solter, producer, Superchunk, The Mountain Goats, Okkervil River).

Minor Stars is proud to present their ambitious sophomore effort, Through Pinholes in the Sky. This record almost didn’t get made—death, loss, and mundane everyday life all conspired against its completion. But four years after first setting foot in Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Recordings, the album is done, and it sounds more fresh and alive than ever. Recorded and mixed by Easter (R.E.M., Polvo, Pavement, Birds of Avalon) and mastered by Robin Schmidt (And So I Watch You From Afar, The Gaslight Anthem, Wolf Alice), it’s a testament to the band’s vision and perseverance.

What does it sound like? Guitarist/Vocalist Eric Wallen conjures enough crackling fuzz and sheer tone from his guitars to make Hendrix and Homme proud; drummer Iain Watt pounds with an urgent punk fervor while employing a jazzy finesse when needed; and Joe Mazzitelli’s massively heavy and driving bass lines pull it all together and propel it forward. It’s a heady mix. The Independent Weekly praised the band’s sound on debut album The Death of the Sun in the Silver Sea: “A collection of shoegaze and psychedelic rock, power pop and heavy metal, these deep riffs could have come from Black Sabbath, the fog above it from Swervedriver. The melodies boast hooks like Cheap Trick’s and a shot of the heavy electric blues, much like Queens of the Stone Age.” But what you’ll hear on Through Pinholes in the Sky is a band pushing their limits by simultaneously reaching toward two extremes—the heavier and quieter moments—by plumbing the depths of both doomy sludge and ethereal gossamer reflection. This is the key to their originality and charm.

Another key: while Minor Stars loves to sink their teeth into a good heavy riff, it’s Wallen’s vocals and songwriting that take the music to another level. Full of defiant melancholy, his melodies and harmonies soar high above the grit of distorted guitars and the heaving energy of the rhythm section, creating an engaging and uniquely compelling sound. Sometimes dark, sometimes brazen, in Wallen’s voice you can hear the universal yearning for something more: the hunger to live fully, the struggle to transform the mundane, the desire to suck the marrow out of life. With his guitar, his voice, and his songs, Wallen documents his drive to live full-throttle, always moving forward, never looking back or wallowing in despair. That intensity is matched and multiplied by his bandmates, and together they’ve given us a new album that rings of redemption and strives for greatness.

Armed with a record of this ambition and a desire to be heard, Minor Stars is ready for whatever comes next. Who knows what that might be.