Astriaal - _Renascent Misanthropy_
(Aftermath, 2004)
by: Alvin Wee (10 out of 10)
Finally unleashed internationally after simmering in the Aussie underground for too long, Astriaal's first full-length simultaneously encompasses and redefines the entire black metal genre. Starting with the celestial intro courtesy of Abigor's Tharen, _Renascent Misanthropy_ oozes dark cosmic grandeur while crafting elaborate firestorms of melody and violence played back at hyperspeed. Reminiscent of the boundless energy on Thy Primordial's early works, each track takes off with a blinding fury, all the while building in complexity and scope. Brooding acoustic passages are deftly intertwined with the raging holocaust of the main body in a miraculous show of dexterity, never once breaking the momentum, only adding to the intricacy of the soundscape.

Astriaal's talent for composition seems boundless; tempo-shifts and counterpoint are used to amazing effect, while the sheer brilliance of the melody exudes an emotionality that stands in glorious contrast to its violent backdrop. Musicianship is equally stellar: drum rolls are executed with inhuman precision and vigor, the blazing leads sweep effortlessly past and the occasional clean vocals are delivered with piercing clarity and force. Remaining true to the base elements of classic Scandinavian black metal while adding a hefty dose of peerless ingenuity, Astriaal have managed to produce a masterpiece that promises to rock the very foundations of black metal. An essential purchase if there ever was one.


(article published 11/10/2004)

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