Anatomy of the Infinite
Astriaal's second album is solid, aggressive black metal
Ever wished you could have the best of modern black metal's clean, solid production without the frills of symphony and the spirit of older, lo-fi black metal with the grim atmosphere minus the production annoyances? Then Astriaal is that band. This black metal outlet formed in 1998 and after numerous demos and EPs, released their debut album in 2003. It was a great start. The debut had a clear sound that allowed all the instruments to be highlighted, it wasn't just about Satan, and wasn't just full of blast beats or the same kind of riffs and musical structure over and over. There was a genuine touch to it. Seven years later, Astriaal have made another attempt, and it still sounds just as good, if not better.
Much of Anatomy of the Infinite is a mix of instrumentals and vocal laid tracks, but each one is extremely aggressive. "Visceral Incarnate" features melodic guitar work and vocals that are deep, throaty, and varied. Sometimes they stay in their medium snarl, others are deeper growls. The drums tend to be a bit one sided as they blast away with pure, aggressive fury, but the tempo of the track varies around. In the beginning it is a hammer to the face, and then the solo gives way for a more melodic, ambient section that eventually breaks off into chugging catchiness. "'Neath the Bones" is more black rock n' roll influenced and straightforward in the riffing, but the solos are still engaging.
"Ad Interim" is one of the short instrumentals. It is mostly guitar driven while being slow and depressing. There's even a bit of wailing in the background to really bring out the ambiance. "The Scars of Aberration" is a bit wild in the sense that lots of the guitar riffs are all over the place and schizophrenic, like a Deathspell Omega track. It starts out solid but then starts changing and twisting about, which really adds to the depravity and esoteric style of Astriaal's music. "Relinquishment of the Stars" is the most melodic offering on the album and sounds more like melodic death metal than black metal. But, it sounds exciting and different from the usual riffs that Astriaal employs while still retaining that dark and evil sound. "For The Day Will Come" features choral backing vocals and a thick, chugging melody that again sets new standards for Astriaal's music. The vocals are present, but they act more as an instrument with their wailing and roaring. It's unique and perhaps makes this the best track on the album.
Those who are new to Astriaal will enjoy it if they like bands such as Marduk or Dark Fortress. Like these two bands, Astriaal don't stray into experimental territory too far with each album, but they also don't make their music sound exactly the same each time. The music here is purely sinister, but the themes and lyrics embrace more than just evil; they're more theological and say more than 'worship Satan, defy God.' It is hard to get bored with an album such as Anatomy of the Infinite with the varied music patterns and tendency to sound as depraved as black metal should without all the cheesiness.