REVIEW: Astral Blood - Self Titled EP


If you've read my INFESTUM Review, you know that I love it when Black Metal steps out of its boundaries to do something new. And, contrary to popular belief - the rawness and complexities of the genre are far more flexible than one would think. Truth is, Black Metal is primordial in every aspect - thus the perfect catalyst for many experimental musical structures. ASTRAL BLOOD, who obviously know their way around the horrid and blackest depths of the genre, seem to pull the entire genre out of the muck by the teeth. This, people, is what can be done when Black Metal has any sort of production value at all.

Though I suppose you could say the chords and progression of this album has pretty much been done to pieces, it hasn't always been quite done like it has on this EP. You see, ASTRAL BLOOD not only creates a wall of sound but applies texture to it. Towering and daunting, you'll always feel a sort of mysticism or reason as to why something was put into the music. Vocally, as vocals are almost always the defining aspect of Black Metal are beyond fantastic. Tearing highs are accompanied by bellowing lows at times, a extremely rare feature of Black Metal - and when the inevitable singing comes into play, it doesn't linger long enough for someone to slap the label 'symphonic' onto the EP.

Of course, my love for this EP also comes strongly from the fact that these Minnesotan Masterminds did not opt for the LoFi route. Don't get me wrong, I love LoFi - it has its place. However, I can really get behind bands taking genres out of their safe-zones, especially when they raise the bar like with this EP. Hell, even the 'Interlude; which is completely comprised of a sort of spoken-word poem, is fantastic. Its not often I care for exaggerated accompaniments or anything but it all feels at home of this short but sweet EP.