Astarte - _Doomed Dark Years_
(Black Lotus Records, 1998)
by: Henry Akeley (
This is fast and forlorn black metal, fusing stark melodies in the chilly style of early Emperor with freezing riffing reminiscent of Mayhem's _De Mysteriis_. And you'd never know it from the way this sounds -- including the anguished, throaty vocal rasps -- but this band is composed entirely of women! If I'm not mistaken, that's a black metal first. Not that it's evident from appearances: there's face paint; spikes and bullets; long, stringy hair, parted down the middle... So Astarte look just like the typical black metal gents -- but then the guys don't exactly come across as paragons of traditional masculinity when the makeup's on and the skinny limbs are posing up a storm, eh? Anyway, musically, _Doomed Dark Years_ definitely delivers. Astarte has an early-90s-Norse-style sound, pleasingly thick and abrasive in tone, pleasingly basic in style and structure. It's also a bit repetitive in the early 90s way -- though this can be a plus when you're in the right mood. There's a drum machine in use, but it sounds solid as these things go: lots of sharp fills and so on. The production is fairly crisp and dense, not too bright or bouncy. While hardly original, this band's sound is extremely well-realized, occasionally quite haunting, and overall very faithful to the inspiration of some of the pioneers of the second wave -- not watered-down, polished-up, or played-out in the manner of so many recent releases in this genre. And speaking of this genre, I wonder how Astarte shall be received... Which reminds me, in a roundabout way, of a gripe I've got -- not about Astarte, but about 'scene'-type stuff. What many of us really like about black metal is the music's cryptic, spectral, alien feeling (enhanced by the costumes -- sometimes). But that essential, unearthly vibe is often spoiled when the genre becomes a platform for politics -- especially in the form of intolerant whining and cliched threats. I'm all in favor of intelligent, -informed- critiques of mainstream religion and commercialism. But a lot of this trendy 'underground' race-bashing and religious intolerance is closed-minded and muddled with ludicrous old stereotypes, hence: lame. But hey, I'm not the thought police; I'm just stating my own view. Anyway, this Astarte album really rips.
(article published 7/6/1998)
All contents copyright 1995-2017 their individual creators. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.