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Astral Tomb - Soulgazer

Astral Tomb
Soulgazer
by Oli Gonzalez at 30 May 2022, 5:37 AM

ASTRAL TOMB, a cosmic death metal band from Denver, Colorado. What is cosmic death metal, you may ask? To be truthful, I had no idea, so I was left to work this out for myself! The band describe themselves as “a narrative of inner awakening”, so I was expecting experimental elements, and something really out of left field and different to what’s already out there. Looking at the artwork, I was expecting psychedelic elements too. They seem to have experimented with line ups and various sounds but now seem at peace with this and now “Soulgazer” is a true reflection of the band.

The album kicked off with a near 13 minute monolith, “Transcendental Visions”. To be perfectly honest, I thought the first few minutes sounded very generic, simple guitar riffs with death metal style growls that were simply unintelligible. I thought ‘how am I going to  get through 13 minutes of this”. However, wait until the 6 minute mark. That’s when things get interesting. The guitars slowly fade out, and a hugely ominous drone invades your senses. It’s almost as if I’m witnessing a ritual worship from an ancient underground cult. I’m intrigued yet terrified. It’s almost as if the first few minutes were designed to pound the listener into submission before leaving them in a beaten trance like state. Once the music kicks back in, it’s simply chaos! But in the best way. No clear cookie cutter song structures. I was wrong to think this was generic! It’s filling a void that I didn’t know existed in metal.

“Be Here Now….” truly is anything but generic. I was predicting psychedelic elements, and that’s exactly what the band delivered. This is 4.5 minutes of pure experimentation, a song crafted from the most obscure instruments, those you probably got from one of your grandparents for Christmas and just ended up getting left in the attic, never to be seen again. I’m wondering if this is some secret alien language encapsulated in this song somewhere, such is the bizarre unorthodox nature.

Then we have “Inertia”. The concept in physics can be described as” a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force”. Here, I would describe this song as simply one of the most obscure yet compelling metal songs I have ever heard. Seriously! The band’s creativity in on another level. Whether it’s the simple yet brutally punishing breakdowns, in the vain of GOJIRA, or the psychedelic patterns you’d hear from a 70s prog rock band, I’m totally sold on the band at this point.

“Traversing the Wandering Star” is another song I would consider to be heavily influenced by GOJIRA, especially with the guitar riffs designed for maximum impact with minimal needless complexity. This is headbanging worthy, and definitely the heaviest song of the album so far. Still, I admire the progressive feel and the lack of conventional song structure. With all the praise due, I’m just not sold on the vocals. What’s the point in growling to the point where the listener can’t make out the lyrics? Might as well leave it as an instrumental.

I was thinking that the guitars sounded too thin throughout. However, “Ascending a Pillar of Light” again proved me wrong with some mind blowing tones and crushing in-your-face sounds. Whether it’s painfully and bludgeoning slow sludge metal passages, or the clear psychedelic progressive passages, your head’s constantly on a swivel and you never know what to expect. I want to see more from this band and see what insane ideas they have lurking in their deeply creative minds.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Transcendental Visions
2. Be Here Now….
3. Inertia
4. Traversing the Wandering Star
5. Ascending a Pillar of Light
Lineup:
Adrian - Guitar
Michael – Guitar/Vocals
Zach – Drums
Record Label: Blood Harvest Records
     


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