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Angelcide - Hunting Astral Prey

Hunting Astral Prey
by Kyle Harding at 27 September 2016, 8:20 AM

There goes a saying that has stood the tests of time because of its truth and relatability: “If you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself.” We’ve all been there, and this is especially prevalent in the world of the Metal underground. More and more do we see solo acts (and we mean explicitly solo) acts releasing whole albums with full sets of tracked instruments and vocals (nothing programmed), which can really make someone stop and think how persistent musicians really can be when they put their mind toward their music. The same can be said for ANGELCIDE.

ANGELCIDE is a one-man act from New York, powered by someone who simply calls himself Maelstrom, the only member of the solo project since its conception in 2004. ANGELCIDE started out as a Depressive-Suicidal Black Metal with a touch of ambience, but rose from the mud and grew into Blackened Death Metal with more aggressive instrumentals and driving force behind the music, “armed with sadistic vocals, warlike brutality and elite musicianship”. Since 2004, Maelstrom has released several demoes, EP’s, and 2 full-length albums under the ANGELCIDE name. Today, we’re taking a look at the band’s 2nd release, put out earlier this year, known as “Hunting Astral Prey”.

The album starts off with many layers of guitar, splashes, and ambient, non-rhythmic screams in “Sadistic Astral Skullfuck”, which is as intense of a song as it sounds, and helps create the mood for the rest of “Hunting Astral Prey” before moving into the main pieces. The first few songs, “Lurker” and the title track, features a lot of technical guitar, overhanging screams, splashy drums, and speedy beats. The riff changes all throughout are very original, and progress in movements rather than standard verses and choruses. “Hunting Astral Prey” alone has to be my favorite tune. Clocking in at nearly 8 minutes, it has plenty of room for intricate composition, mainly extended guitar work. The guitar isn’t terribly overdriven, clearer than the drums and bass, opening the window to understand its direction rather than being mixed into the muck.

Hunting Astral Prey” begins to slow down with “Grotesque Mass of Tentacles and Eyes” and “Raped Celestial Body”, with more rhythmic, tremolo guitar layered with leads amidst the brutal screams. “Mauler” is a bit more fluid than the rest, with even higher-pitched screams ringing over the rest of the instruments, mixed in more outright. This harks back a little to some of the older stuff, still with a fresher, newer style that ANGELCIDE has been aiming to achieve.

Finally, the album closes with a purely ambient track, which, in my experience, is never a bad idea, and can be a good resolution to the events and epiphanies that have occurred during the listen… but only when they’re short and sweet. The outro, called “Dark Matter”, whirs and rings with a very spacey sound… for 15 minutes. The drone speeds and slows at certain points, granted; yet it’s still a bit excessive. I would have kept the track at 3 minutes, tops.

My biggest issue with “Hunting Astral Prey” is the mixing. The drums were a little drowned with the cleaner guitar, which made for a bit of an imbalance. Some bass would have maybe evened this out a little, but the lower rumble was mixed out almost completely, leaving a weak foundation. When bands aim for that “rough cut” sound, it still has to be done with a particular stability and level of clarity, or it just sounds a little shallow.

For an album done by a single person, it’s a decent effort. I know it’d be daunting for me. All that Maelstrom needs to do is carry on with ANGELCIDE in the same musical fashion that he’s been aiming, and work on the balance of the sound overall. The musicality was great, as was suggested in the project’s statement; there just needs to be a set plan for production quality. ANGELCIDE has evolved enormously in recent years and I’d like to see where it goes.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Sadistic Astral Skullfuck
2. Lurker
3. Hunting Astral Prey
4. Grotesque Mass of Tentacles and Eyes
5. Raped Celestial Body
6. Mauler
7. Dark Matter
Maelstrom - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Mixing, Mastering
Record Label: Elegy Records


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