Astral Luminous - _Lunaric Tide_
(Hypnotic Dirge, 2009)
by: Yulon Zhu (8 out of 10)
Astral Luminous is a band for those who seek escapist, minimalist ambience, but still want to face the baring teeth of the world. This is black metal for nautical philosophers and galactic wanderers. Scott Johnson has created nothing short of a dementia-nal void carved from black metal and dark matter on the debut full-length, _Lunaric Tide_.

The title track is a bit sketchy for anyone who doesn't think "ambient" should be considered a musical genre, but things quickly take a turn for the colder as "Astral Luminous" rains down thirteen minutes of torrential meteors. It brings about clarity in this deep space, perhaps attained through breathlessness cured only at the end, where you're left sucked of every last trivial thought. Only then can you understand why music like Astral Luminous is more than the passage of one man, but the experience of many. The only weak point of this track is the guitar part that ends about ten minutes in. It's dynamic, beautiful and would have left a stronger impression if it was continued instead of traded in for an acoustic outro.

Third track, "Binaural Vibrancy", provides listeners with even more fuzz-distortion. It progresses into a large mass likened to a leviathan travelling the skies; a lumbering giant that breaks apart a mountain with one flick of its tail and flies on, ignorant and uncaring to the fact that an avalanche of stone is now heading towards a town full of people. These elements of slow brooding and eruptive passages make _Lunaric Tide_ stand out from the lifeless glob of new releases.

This is an album that you have to think about. Some may find the lengthy tracks repetitive, while others will be able to find and appreciate the differences in each section. The transitions from song to song are a bit convoluted, but it's hard to say whether that's entirely a plus or a minus. The vocals sound closely related to most screamers who pile their lungs atop highly distorted black metal like Burzum, Xasthur, etc. A heavier heaping of them would have offered up more distinctive variety, but then again, when looking at the stars, it's hard to decipher one from the other without looking hard.

Astral Luminous is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy meteoric black metal, you'll never turn away from listening to _Lunaric Tide_. This cosmic composition features not only wonderfully crafted "black metal for the mind, body and soul", engulfed by a sea of cracking guitars and shattering drums, but unique and masterfully drawn artwork. There's nothing to dislike about the band if you've come for music that transcends beyond the metal masses, willing to travel down underground ideas in search of a world of planetary collisions that will never bore.


(article published 15/4/2009)

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