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Astral Tomb - Soulgazer

Astral Tomb
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 03 May 2022, 5:47 AM

ASTRAL TOMB is a death metal band from Colorado that formed in 2019. After releasing one demo, a split and an EP, they have dropped their full length debut entitled "Soulgazer." This album is certainly a trip—it is loaded with progressive and psychedelic tendencies. Of course it is death metal so while it is sending the mind into an abyssal trip, it is also bludgeoning it. With a 35 minute run time and five tracks, it is a somewhat short experience in overall time but that is a good thing. As talented as the band is, some of the individual songs go on too long with elements that were not really needed.

The first track, "Transcendental Visions," begins with a brutal rhythm that builds into a short but crazy solo. It sounds good but I can't help but feel it is out of place. This is a problem throughout the album—some pieces seem to just be there to be there with no real purpose. I do enjoy the song though. I appreciate how well it can go from heavy and chunky to fast and brutal on a dime. But much if that momentum is lost when everything just comes to a halt for some weird throat singing. This passage doesn't last long but I guess I'm just missing the point. However, it builds back up in a very effective manner—the music warps around the speakers and makes me feel like my head is going to burst.

The next track, "Be Here Now" nearly destroys the album's entire flow. The song is just weird, spacey ambient noises for four and a half minutes. That is waaaaaaay too long to be subjected to this pointless track. I suppose in context to the band, this "song" makes sense in the overall grand scheme of the album. But bands tend to get so self indulgent they forget that not all their ideas will translate for the listener. This is one of those songs. There is literally no one that is going to throw this album on and gravitate towards this track alone. Even when listening to this album straight through I had to skip this or I'd see something shiny and wonder off.

Thankfully, "Inertia (Crashing through the Doorways of Eternity)," is an absolute banger of a song that gets the album back on the track. The insane guitars and drums intersect with slower more dissonant moments and the whole thing songs wonderful, if a little messy. The middle portion has the band building up with big riffs before going chaotic in the instrument. I listened to this on my headphones and almost died. True story. The ending of the song is a clean instrumentation passage that is well done and clever as hell—and a bit hazy and stoned out as well.

The next track, "Traversing the Wandering Star," has a better balance between their brand of death metal the more out there spacey elements. For nearly two minutes the song builds up but does a better job than "Be Here Now" in displaying their desire to mix sci fi themes. The rest of the song is death metal played with an impressive tenacity. It may go without saying but these guys are impressive musicians and they display that consistently—when they are on fire, it burns bright.

But none burn brighter than the last song "Ascending A Pillar Of Light." This is the best song because it includes all the ideas of the previous songs but much more coherently. The beginning moments make it seem as if someone recorded humans in a meat grinder but it suddenly changes moods—both aspects are beautiful in their own way. Despite the different styles and tone throughout the song, the flow is optimal and nothing ever feels forced. Some of the best riffs are presented here such as that groovy jaws theme sounding riff a little more than halfway in. It speeds up and takes the whole band with it.

All in all, ASTRAL TOMB's "Soulgazer" might not be perfect but it is unique with stunning musicianship.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Transcendental Visions
2. Be Here Now…
3. Inertia (Crashing Through The Doorways Of Eternity)
4. Traversing The Wandering Star
5. Ascending A Pillar Of Light
Adrian McClaire – Drums
Micahel Schrock – Guitars, Vocals
Zach Johnson – Drums
Record Label: Blood Harvest Records


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