Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ASTROFAES - Dying Emotions Domain CD Reissue review

ASTROFAES - Dying Emotions Domain CD Reissue
Negative Existence
Genre: Black Metal
Rating: 5/5

If you mention Ukrainian Black Metal to the average metal music fan all you will get from them (if you're lucky) will be something close to an acknowledgement that the Ukraine exists. (Although I wouldn't try to ask em to find it on a map) For extreme types (aka: you readers) the response is much more rich since it brings to mind a number of bands whose style of music within the genre holds with it the spirit of the Slavonic lands. The music conveys a savage attitude built upon by honor defended in blood, pride in heritage and remembrance of ancestors. The blackened music varies in degree but not the attitude behind it. Most extreme types know of such Ukrainian Black Metal acts like NOKTURNAL MORTUM, LUCIFUGUM as well as the various bands created by Roman Saenko, BLOOD OF KINGU, DRUDKH and HATE FOREST. ASTROFAES have also been on that list of Ukrainian acts who have branched out from their homeland to be enjoyed and respected by listeners the world over. ASTROFAES started out back in the mid nineties and are still around today. The band's last release was the Shu-Nun EP from 2008. Although they've been prolific all throughout the past decade having band members participating in other Ukrainian BM acts kinda puts a hold on the creative process.

I'm sure we'll see something new sooner or later but till then it's their past works which need to be discovered by a whole new group of fans. Thankfully Negative Existence has re-issued ASTROFAES debut full length from 1998. For me this is a double treat because for starters it's a damm great album in my not so humble opinion. Secondly this release has not received the respect as those which followed it. I chalk that up to in part from the ignorance of modern writers and to those who actually hate black metal but like all of those indie rock imitators and thieves. The greatness of this release is that it's melodic black metal which is fairly raw in production but still has this massive ferocious atmosphere to it. The band at that time consisted of Thurios (whose also been in HATE FOREST, DRUDKH and BLOOD OF KINGU) and Khorus (also from KHORS) Between these two individuals the music created on here is far more exhilarating to listen to now then the lion's share of blackened acts today playing masquerade.

Once the dark short instrumental opener "The Black Woods Theory" draws you inside the doors firmly shut locking you into a blackened realm of oppressive might. Your first introduction is the album's longest cut "Fiery Mysticism" which takes what the Scandinavians did traditionally with black metal and then weaves it with Eastern fury and flavor. The added keyboards work to add background atmosphere but are not symphonic in any way. "At Nightfall" and "Path To Burning Space" are my favorite cuts on here. Both of which have this pummeling wall of blackened sound which crushes everything in it's wake. The latter cut even adds more than enough Eastern folk elements in it's first half to distinguish it from what some would perceive as Scandinavian BM. "Necromantical Screams" is practically blackened thrash that could mow down an army of outwitted bystanders. The song even contains drum rolls which could be interpreted as bodies falling to the ground. "Ad Infinitum" (Dark II) brings about a needed break from the onslaught by adding an atmospheric interlude albeit an aggressive one with pagan chanted vocals instead of the primary blackened rasp which is the mainstay of what Thurios offers. This only lasts about halfway through the song when the blackened fury returns. The title cut is as close to a true Nordic influence on here as it gets since it reveals an obvious EMPEROR style with the keyboards playing a more prominent role.

The final cut on here, A Song of the Night Birds, is a short haunting piano instrumental which works in perfectly as a closer from all of the battle weariness which proceeded it. Even though this has been remastered the original rawness is still in place. Plus this edition has new artwork which I think is better than the original. With so many bands of the past getting dusted off and repackaged to new listeners I'd say this is a must for anyone who into discovering the true essence of Ukrainian Black Metal.



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