Friday 4 June 2021

Astarium - Growths Of The Past

Labels: Self-Released/Swollen Gargantuan Fecal Fetus/NitroAtmosfericum Records

Formats: CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 01 Jan 2020


1. I

2. II

3. III

4. IV

5. V

6. VI

7. VII


9. IX (Varg Vikernes Cover)

10. X

11. XI

12. XIII

The brain is a weird thing. I'm craving some heavy, violent music yet I feel that something a little lighter would probably be better right now. I'm going to put a new schedule together soon to focus a bit more, but this evening I'm going down a familiar path with another album from Russian symphonic/ambient black metal band Astarium. Growths Of The Past is an instrumental, ambient album from last year, which contains a number of reworked songs that didn't make the cut on other albums. It was kindly sent to me by sole member SiN and the cd version I have contains twelve songs. It was self-released by Astarium in January 2020, before being released on cd via the awesomely titled US label Swollen Gargantuan Fecal Fetus during the same month. Later on in 2020, it was released on both tape and cd by longtime conspirators NitroAtmosfericum Records. 

None of the songs here have conventional titles, so bare with me. Growths Of The Past is purely ambient and instrumental, which shows the other side of Astarium and much like the cover art above, album opener ‘I’ is remarkably cosmic in it’s delivery. The band’s trademark melodic synths working wonders during it’s short playing time. ‘II’ is much more minimalist at first, but it’s definitely the sort of music you’d expect to hear if you were floating through the galaxy. You sometimes get those videos online where people claim to have captured the sounds of space and sometimes they sound like this. I’m not sure if that’s what SiN was going for here but it works really well all the same.

‘III’ definitely sounds like some kind of retro video game/fantasy/dungeon synth mash-up and it’s glorious. I’m not even into dungeon synth either, so am probably way off the mark. This album is way more entertaining than it should be, in the best possible way too. ‘IV’ is indescribable for me but those odd bleep-like noises are spellbinding, which is probably a weird notion I guess, but it’s true.’ V’ is more of a traditional ambient number from Astarium, especially if you’re familiar with the band’s black metal leaning music. It still has the fantasy edge of the previous songs here but it sounds more serious to me. It’s certainly more dramatic and orchestral.

The first real percussion-like textures can be heard on ‘VI’, which is another very minimalist song. In fact, it’s the longest song the album (unless you count the near nineteen-minute untitled track that’s listed on Metal Archives). It’s very relaxing because of that minimalism, with its almost laid-back hip hop beats. ‘VII’ is a very different beast with the strings/synths taking the lead throughout and just a subtle undercurrent of what could be considered dance/trance music in the background (maybe?) minus the beats this time.

‘VIII’ is another one of those songs that sounds like it’s being led by a xylophone or a glockenspiel, with the bubbly kind of sound that’s super relaxing throughout it’s short playing time. In fact, the rest of Growths Of The Past goes by rather quickly. ‘IX’ (a Varg Vikernes cover apparently) is a sub two-minute ambient piece made entirely out of Astarium’s more traditional synths. Again it’s orchestral but more upbeat too. SiN delves back into the video-game synth realm on ‘X’. The organ-like sound is quite beguiling when it’s in full flow. 

The penultimate song on the album is once again a world away from Astarium’s atmospheric black metal. ‘XI’ is filled with that dance-vibe without being an actual dance track, which in my opinion makes it a lot better. It’s instrumental layers are perfect and really upbeat making it very euphoric to listen to. The twelfth and final song here ‘XII’ is very brief just like the opener and it’s a nice way to close everything out. Really well thought out and performed throughout. 

I have to say that from somebody who is probably more familiar with heavier, more dissonant music, especially when it comes to Astarium’s black metal releases, Growths Of The Paths is a side to SiN’s music that I really enjoy. I consider myself surprised and also ashamed that I left it so long before writing this review. Great job! Hopefully more people will pay this album the attention it deserves. 

You can stream and purchase the full album digitally below:-

I don 't know if there are any physical copies left of this album (after searching) but you can reach out to Astarium and/or NitroAtmosfericum Records below to find out:-

Astarium -

NitroAtmosfericum Records -

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