Sunday, 21 April 2019

Astarium - Fragments Of Nightmares


Labels: NitroAtmosfericum Records
Formats: CD/3.5" Floppy Disk
Release Date: 09 Jan 2019

Tracklist:

1. Nocturnalism
2. Morning Star
3. Aligned Planets
4. King In Yellow
5. Desecration
6. The Fourth Horseman
7. Hell's Order
8. Burned
9. In The Heart Of Storm
10. Immolation
11. Blind Beholder
12. Moist Vagina

Russian one-man black metal project Astarium is not a new name to me; however, the project's creator is taking it in a new direction in 2019 with the release of it's sixth full-length "Fragments Of Nightmares". Moving away from the more familiar symphonic black metal sound, SiN has gathered together a collection of 12 songs that barely last over a minute each. I've read that the music contained here is influenced by grindcore, so it'll be interesting to hear the difference between it and older material. Also, in true grindcore fashion, releasing label NitroAtmosfericum Records has release it on limited CD and also on 3.5" floppy disk. 

I don’t know what to really expect here as Astarium’s symphonic black metal has been longer and  more spread out in the past. Opener Nocturnalism is an ambient and synth-led black metal piece that would act as an intro on any other album. Here’s it’s actually one of a few song that passes the sixty-second mark. The majority of the music here is programmed and it does add a more machine-like industrial edge to the album. Morning Star is a short burst of music, featuring SiN’s unique, almost spoken vocals that must be uncomfortable to produce. Aligned Planets follows on instantaneously with an upbeat tempo, which is where the grind influence comes in. 

There’s an obvious shift in Astarium’s music, but out still retains the blueprint that was forged on earlier releases like “Wyrm Of Melancholy” and “Atenvx”. King In Yellow begins quietly but the layers of instrumentation and effects allows its volume to rise and addition of death metal grunts is a surprise too. It’s back to the more traditional Astarium sound on Desecration, as the pace of slowed ever so slightly. The piano on The Fourth Horseman may be hidden a bit deeper in the mix but it’s an excellent addition, especially in a song that’s certainly more avant-garde even if brief. 

I have to admit that it does feel a bit strange writing about this album when the sun’s beaming down outside, but what are you gonna do. I suppose it’s apt that Hell’s Order is next as the heat outside slightly resembles the heat down below. It’s the longest song on “Fragments Of Nightmares” but don’t let that fool you, it’s not a progressive rock opera or anything. The record also reminds of how difficult it can be to live review records when the songs they contain come and go in the blink of an eye, like Burned does. 

The symphonic majesty and chaos of In The Heart Of Storm makes me wonder why SiN hasn’t yet enlisted a full band for Astarium. As creative as SiN is here, a full band would really take things to the next level but that’s merely my opinion. At this point, the remainder of the songs come thick and fast with little gap in between them all. Immolation once again is heavily synth led and the dual high/low-pitched growls give added volume. Penultimate track Blind Beholder is ridiculously quick and it leads to the bizarrely titled closer Moist Vagina, which is not a tribute to gore or snuff grind but is an instrumental. 

Overall with “Fragments Of Nightmares”, Astarium has definitely started to move in a different direction and while the grindcore may not be as obvious, the influence is there amongst the symphonic black metal and this album will definitely appeal to fans of avant-garde and underground music for sure. The cover art is great as well. 

You can download Aligned Planets via Astarium's website here - http://www.astarium.ru/eng/index.html

CD & Floppy Disk copies can be purchased from NitroAtmosfericum Records here - http://www.nitroatmosfericum.ru/eng/

NitroAtmosfericum Records - https://www.facebook.com/nitroatmosfericum/

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