Astral Luminous – Astral Luminous

I hesitate to call this music black metal, at least in the traditional sense. It’s about as purely black metal as ‘Filosofem’-era Burzum is, which is to say that there’s not much in the way of Darkthrone or Mayhem. You could describe it as folky, but it’s described that way based on what ‘folky’ sounds like, not through any connection to any folk I’ve ever heard of. This almost has more in common with ambient than metal, and though all the instruments of metal are in place, the general construction is much more ambient in nature. That being said, despite the strange nature of the music, it’s quite good.

Strictly speaking, there’s only one ‘real’ song here, and it’s the first one. ‘Transcendence’ is a lengthy, fairly droning track that resembles a combination of ‘Filosofem’-era Burzum and Brazil’s underrated geniuses Zargof: warm keys and guitars with extremely quiet, distorted vocals and a similarly subdued drum performance, with only cymbals being readily audible. The melodies are generally very repetitive, but quite layered as well, keeping things interesting. While the ‘poor’ mixing would generally be a flaw, it works perfectly here, as the melodies really are the only important thing, with the drums only needing to provide a semblance of rhythm. Think of it as Drudkh if Drudkh were good. ‘Past Remembrance’ is a little instrumental in the ambient style of a group like Arcana; not extremely memorable, but good for what it is. This rather brief demo concludes with a cover of Morbid Angel’s ‘Desolate Ways’, which is quite an unusual choice, but a very pleasing one. It’s covered essentially flawlessly and does great justice to the original.

I really like this style, though it’s certainly not for everyone. Despite the inherent repetition of the main song here, it actually does possess quite a bit of variation, despite how the root elements are the same: breaks into clean guitar, the fast opening and closing passages, the vocal solo break: there’s a lot going on in actuality. And above and beyond that, the aesthetic is simply beautiful: I love that warm, washing guitar sound and the production in general. What there needs to be more of: songs and vocals. I want to hear more of Astral Luminous’ ‘black metal’ work, and I want to hear more vocals to add to the guitar sound. But for what is here, I love it and you should too.

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~ by noktorn on September 7, 2007.

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