|Review: Astriaal - Renascent Misanthropy|
Label: Blacktalon Media
Year released: 2003
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: September 30, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
It took me, what, a year to get this? Blacktalon put this one out last year, but it took this long for it to turn up on The End. And despite my frustration at the long wait, I have to say it was worth every second. It's taken Aussie band Astriaal years to get a proper full-length recorded and released. Even though they have put out one other 'full-length' CD, it was really just a collection of demo tracks. "Renascent Misanthropy" is their first real album, and it is so good it's scary.
Astriaal play a melodic, highly technical variety of Black Metal that shares a lot of influences with bands like Emperor and Diabolical Masquerade, but also more aggressive acts like Marduk. Astriaal are not really revolutionary style-wise, though they are remarkable for not having a keyboard player, and in fact making very little use of keys in general. What Astriaal have done is bring an unprecedented level of musicianship and musicality to an extreme metal album. The guitarwork and riffery here is nothing short of amazing, with vicious but catchy licks that mutate and vary, come back, and then twist off in new directions all over again. They can take a single riff, and by varying the beats behind it from blast to march and back change the texture of the sound entirely from one bar to the next. The leadwork is stellar, and rather than a standard hyper-speed style the leads are mostly midpaced and soulful, with a clean, scooped tone and a very classical approach. The vocals are a little one-dimensional, though they do break things up with some clean vocals here and there, but the lyrics are highly impressive. They remain true to the BM ethos, hateful and angry, with an inimical dedication to a different world, and yet they are not Satanic or cliché in the slightest.
I am as completely impressed with this CD as I was when I first heard the advance track "Glories Of The Nightsky", as the entire CD lives fully up to the promise of that song. Powerful, memorable, complex and startlingly musical Black Metal from a band that will be huge someday. The only thing I have to ding this album for is the excess of instrumental filler. Tracks one, seven and nine are all rather short atmospheric tracks, and while "Acquisition Of The Stars" is a great song, the other two are of no real interest or substance. Nevertheless, "Renascent Misanthropy" is within a hair of being an instant classic. Just an amazing album. Highly recommended.
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