Astarium – Drum-Ghoul

Wind and weather start off the latest album from the super prolific Russian symphonic black metal one man project Astarium. Soon, a bizarre guitar line, almost synthetic, starts grinding away. From there on the music is built through programmed drums, harsh guitars, mourning synthesizers and – of course – guttural black metal vocals. There are four tracks, each very long and even more epic.

Drum-Ghoul may be symphonic, but it is also dirty and raw. The production is decent enough, but has not been perpetrated with the intention of creating a slick, commercially viable product. The fuzz of the guitars and the stomping of the drum machine has a strong 90’s demo vibe, the organs and other synths are stacked upon each other in an efficient but far from over-produced way. The heavy use of sampled sounds and noises adds a primitively cinematic quality to the album. The tempo shifts – usually it remains on the slow side, while there are occasional faster outbursts and more than a few mid-paced segments. The gargling vox is complemented by deeper, spoken parts.

Each of the four tracks have a character of its own. The more than 16 minutes long opener “Hill of Scape-Gallows” is epic and dramatic, “Dread Asylum” has a kind of gothic horror vibe calling Hammer Films to mind, “Hospitality of Demon” combines these elements and sounds into something resembling early (really early) Cradle of Filth. The same could be said for “Pernicious Elixir”, but there’s also some other force at work as this slow, heavy piece closes out the album.

Drum-Ghoul is a great piece of obscure music, if you’re into 90’s style black metal with a hefty dose of synthesizers, sound effects and murky darkness. And of course, everyone is. It is released by Symbol of Domination in collaboration with More Hate, and available for a good price on CD or digital download.

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