Thursday, 15 November 2012

Astarium - Ostracism of Anachoret


I've jumped back on the review train after a few days of silence, sorting out some boring life stuff, which as it happens. still isn't sorted. One positive things that came out of though, is a real thirst for metal of all shapes and sizes. Over the coming days, I'll have plenty of new reading material for you, including the next batch of updates for my "Records being released in 2013" page. But first, a review of a four song tape from Russian One-man black metal act Astarium.

Astarium formed in 2005 and has been releasing music very steadily since then, with three full lengths, three splits, two EP's, a single and two demo's so far. Sole member SiN plays all instruments and provides the vocals. This particular release was put out in 2011 on two limited cassette runs and one on CDr.

Tracklist:-

1. Birth of the Flame
2. Recantation by Death
3. Expelled Into Obscurity
4. Autumn Coda


Opener, Birth of The Flame begins with a subtle organ intro, played over the howling wind. This song is an instrumental, ambient introduction, which segues into a very dramatic stringed song midway through. This song to me sounds like the backing music to some evil nursery rhyme!

Recantation By Death is the first time you get a sense of Astarium's black metal leanings. It starts with some cleanly played guitar alongside more instrumental effects. It's a very off-kilter intro section, which builds for about a minute. When the vocals kick in, they are low, almost spoken-word vocals. They are sparse and sometimes interjected by the odd black metal growl. The music is very much mid-paced and doesn't have that muddy sound you'd associate with black metal usually. It's well produced and all the instruments and effects sound clear. There are elements of doom metal hiding within the music too, especially during the sole guitar that rears it's head towards the end of Recantation By Death.

Astarium's symphonic elements make themselves heard during Expelled Into Obscurity. The haunting string style samples used underneath the vocals certainly a cool dimension to the music. I like the fact that each song has a different feeling and a different texture. They don't all follow the same format or blueprint. The lengths work well too. Having two six+ minute tracks sandwiched between shorter songs helps to keep you interested and wondering what will be around the next turn.

Final piece, Autumn Coda begins with icy horns and ambience, with the sound of elements rustling behind the music. SiN uses some different sound textures here to add something different to his music, with more electronic samples used in the right way, that don't take away from the music. Again, this closing track is instrumental, but rounds of this tape nicely. As the final bars die down, you are left with a feeling of calm. This is a varied and nicely product tape, from another one-man entity that adds something relevant to the Eastern European scene.

If you're into this kind of ambient black metal, you won't be disappointed.

If you're unfamiliar with Astarium, visit their website at http://www.astarium.ru/eng/index.html and Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Astarium.

Through the main website, you can download a MP3 version of Expelled into Obscurity. It's definitely worth doing to get a taste of what Astarium has to offer.

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