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Stella Maris - The Open Gate

On July 2, 1994 "Stella Maris" released their second studio album "The Open Gate".

From time to time we are wondering whether "Hed Artzi" would have signed "Hayehudim" and whether the album "Metziut Nifredet" would have been released at all, had it not been for the success of this album, which was released on the competing "Helikon" label.

So we decided to confront the question and it seems to us that "Hayehudim" like other Israeli metal bands owe a lot to "Stella Maris" and especially to this album, which, as its name suggests, "opened the gate" for those who came after.

"Stella Maris" is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of metal in Israel. It was founded in Haifa in 1990 by new immigrants from Russia, guitarist Nick Miller, and keyboardist Fima Shuster. They started their journey together with bassist Dobby Sonny in a cover band called "Uranium". Later, they were joined by drummer Eitan Khodarji and vocalist Pablo Rosenberg from the band "Monitor", who immigrated to Israel from Argentina, thus completing the classic lineup of the band.

Pablo Rosenberg was the one who pressured the band members to perform songs in a heavy rock style, with texts in Hebrew. He believed that this way it would be easier to interest the Israeli audience. The band started playing in clubs in Haifa and the Krayot and later also in the mythical "Roxanne" club in Tel Aviv, then caught the eye of Avi Peretz who was then the promoter of the band "Tislam". From there it was already a short road to signing them with the "Helikon" company.

The band's first album named "Stella Maris", was released on September 10, 1992. It is a classic hard rock and heavy metal album, unheard of in Israel at the time. The days were the days of alternative and grunge, so it took a lot of courage from both the band and the record company to release such an album, which included an old-fashioned sound of classic hard rock and virtuoso playing. But as always, when you do something wholeheartedly and follow through with it, the result pays off. The album produced successful songs such as: "Let me go", "Mistake", "Survive", "Pharoah's Curse", "Come home", "Ishtar" and "Lila Tov" and the band was even exposed on MTV with the music video for the song "Ishtar", which was also the first Hebrew music video broadcast on the station.

Bolstered by the relative success of the debut album, the band decided to toughen up the sound and style a bit with the album "The Open Gate". If the first album leaned more on classic hard rock and heavy metal, with influences from "Deep Purple" and "Led Zeppelin", then this album took it one step further and included a more metallic, gloomy and heavy sound.

The one who contributed to the unique sound of this album was the famous producer Chris Tsangarides, who worked with artists such as Gary Moore, "Thin Lizzy", "Helloween", Yngwie Malmsteen and produced albums such as "Painkiller" and "Tattooed Millionaire". Chris came to visit Israel, the members of the band met with him and that is what created the foundation for Collaboration.

Chris and the band members managed to create a metallic sound that had not been heard before in Israel, which, among other things, reminded of "Judas Priest", with whom Chris worked (listen for example to the opening riff in songs like "Black Roses" and "I'm Lost").

The album was a success and included, among others, the songs: "Dangerous Games", "Black Roses", "I'm Lost", "How Will I Know", "White Lie", "Two Kings", "It's Not Too Late" and of course, the ballad "A Candle By The Window" which was also a great success in Rosenberg's solo career and was also performed on the show "Kohav Nold".

This is the last album of the band in its classic lineup. Already in October of that year, Pablo Rosenberg left the band and started a solo career, together with him the bass player Dobby Sonny left the band.

"The Open Gate" may be known for the ballad "A Candle By The Window" which is the band's most successful song, but in our opinion, it should be remembered as a groundbreaking album that "opened the gate" for metal in Israel.

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