Saturday, 5 April 2014

Astarium - Wyrm of Melancholy


I've decided to focus my next three reviews on three bands that have been featured multiple times on these pages. Three bands who play ambient black metal and are located in Eastern Europe. The first of the three is Russian solo-project Astarium. Having already featured Astarium's Ostracism of Anachoret tape as well as the bands three-way split with Gmork and In Tenebriz, it's now the turn of the 2012 full-length Wyrm of Melancholy. Astarium has been releasing music for eight years now and Wyrm of Melancholy is the band's third full length. It was released by Metallic Media.

Tracklist:-

1. Unrelieved Solitude
2. Kingdom of White Madness
3. Voices From The Night Sky
4. Farewell (Last Winter)
5. Revival of Cursed Spirit
6. Velleity About Aeonian Rain
7. Grief of The Fallen
8. When Humanity Will Die
9. Permafrost

I always think that musicians who release music as solo-projects must be very skilled, because not only do they write and play all parts of the music they create, but they also record it all and usually master it to some extent. Astarium has always come across as a very genuine band. With the calm opener Unrelieved Solitude, with it’s sensitive guitar riffs, ambience and whispered vocals you can tell that Astarium cares about the listener. The vocals are in English, which isn’t always the case with bands of this ilk that call Eastern Europe home. The song is the perfect minimal introduction to Wyrm of Melancholy.

Astarium experiments with different instrumental sounds during Kingdom of White Madness. The organ, while electronic, still adds some haunting melody that sits below the blackened vocals. It is obvious that this is a solo-project, but the volume and the quality of the music does not suffer at all. 
There are hints of cosmic influences within the too. The blips and sounds that greet you at the of Voices From The Night Sky sound like extraterrestrials trying to communicate with you through your speakers. The clean guitar and keys that create the initial melody are not reminiscent of the black ambient blueprint that the band follows, but they bring this instrumental song to life.

Farewell (Last Winter) is very dramatic, with orchestral layers and impressive lead work. The gargled black metal growls of SiN give the song a sinister edge. Considering the songs on Wyrm of Melancholy are longer in their lengths and mid-paced, they don’t outstay their welcome or get boring. 
SiN’s appreciation of orchestral arrangements can be heard more clearly during Revival of Cursed Spirit. The song’s verses flow well and the gentle piano provides yet another musical layer to Astarium’s arsenal.  The running water of Velleity About Aeonian Rain provides the perfect backdrop for this shortened instrumental piece. The mood swings back toward darkness with Grief of The Fallen, with the re-introduction of SiN’s growls. 

The penultimate song When Humanity Will Die… is a slow burner. At over seven minutes long, it takes it’s time. The one thing that has struck me about this album is how minimalistic it sounds and how the use of distortion and guitar is not overdone. It’s left to Permafrost to end proceedings with what sounds like a train during the ambient passages of this instrumental song. A lot of care and work was put into this album and while it may not be the kind records that gives you instant gratification, it is still a good listen. It requires your attention throughout and rewards you with some very nice musicianship and overall structure. This might surprise you.

You can visit Astarium's website here - http://www.astarium.ru/eng/index.html. You can download certain songs and purchase Astarium's music from the site.

Astarium Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Astarium
Metallic Media Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MetallicMedia



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