Ashtar – Ilmasaari (Review)

AshtarAshtar are from Switzerland and play Blackened Doom. This is their début album.

Ashtar play music that incorporates elements of Black Metal, Doom and Sludge. I do love a bit of Blackened Doom, and if you’ve been keeping up with the likes of Usnea, Mourning Pyre, Atriarch and Upyr then Ashtar should be your cup of tea too.

Even though the album cover screams Classic Doom, Ashtar’s musical aesthetic is more on the Black Metal side of things. Aspects of Classic Doom do make it into their sound, but these have been Blackened and corrupted into the sickening Sludge mass that they are now.

The vocals are mainly Blackened shrieks that seem to scratch at the back of your eyes like something unclean that wants to come into our world. The singer seems to have a knack for this kind of malevolent rasp, although she does occasionally use her voice in a few other ways throughout these six tracks.

The songs are bleak and sobering glimpses into the mindset of their creators. There are enough riffs and quality guitar lines here to keep anyone satisfied, but Ashtar are primarily about the mood and atmosphere that they create with their chosen medium.

The band are a duo and as such the music is relatively minimalistic, however it rapidly seems to expand to fill a large amount of space with its gloominess and it never seems like you’re listening to anything other than a full band. This is especially true when they incorporate additional sounds and instrumentation into their songs to further deepen the atmosphere.

There’s something extremely satisfying about this release. From the occult feelings to the Blackened bile; from the Doom aura to the impressive riffs; Ashtar have crafted a release that will appeal to the darkness inside.

Highly recommended.

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John Gallow – Violet Dreams (Review)

John GallowJohn Gallow is from the US and this is an album of Doom Metal.

This is a Doom Metal album that’s full of Doom and has lots of Doom Metal in it. The Doom is strong and the Doom is heavy, with lots of Doom Metal making an appearance and a liberal Doom sprinkling of Doom on the Doom side.

This Doom album is of the Traditional Doom variety with Classic Doom and Old-School Doom also being represented. Black Doom Sabbath are a good Doom starting point as well as other Doom members of the Doom pantheon used as Doom influences.

Doom. Doom. Doom.

Okay, enough of that. You get the idea.

There is just over an hour of music on this album and it’s a pleasure to listen to. The man has a powerful voice and the music has a good amount of variation and interest to it.

The riffs are good, the melodies bold and memorable and the production punchy and crisp. The songs are well-written and there are plenty of interludes, solos, leads, keys, effects and even bass shenanigans to keep the listener enthralled.

John Gallow has produced an album that manages to encapsulate all of what it means to be Traditional Doom Metal whilst managing to actually sound current and relevant at the same time. It may be resolutely Old-School in source material but this is an album that can stand proud in the 21st century as a exemplar of how this kind of music should sound.

Hail!

Wicked Inquisition – Silence Thereafter (Review)

Wicked InquisitionWicked Inquisition are from the US and play Traditional Heavy Metal.

Here we have some good old-fashioned worship of all things 70’s style Doom, with Black Sabbath, Trouble and Saint Vitus all being good reference points.

This is a short EP, with 4 songs in just under 16 minutes, one of which is an interlude-style track.

This kind of music is instantly familiar as soon as you press play; within the first couple of seconds they’ve already established what they’re all about and what you should expect.

The songs are good and the production warm. The singer fits with the vibe of the band and everything gels nicely into place.

They do what they do well and make for a perfectly enjoyable 16 minutes. You know what to expect with this style, and Wicked Inquisition do it as well as any.

Pilgrim – II: Void Worship (Review)

PilgrimPilgrim play Doom Metal and come from the US. As the name suggests, this is their second album.

The band play a classic form of Black Sabbath-inspired Doom Metal that has a vaguely retro feel, but not overly so like some bands of this ilk.

Pilgrim have an epic feeling to their songs, but not in the same way that Power Metal can be epic, or Black Metal can be; this is more in the form of a terrible majesty and awesome horror, frightening but enlightening to behold. The tracks definitely have that otherworldly feeling.

The vocals are highly accomplished and are stronger than the average for this kind of band; the singer has range, depth and nuance.

The second song Master’s Chamber is the longest and my favourite of the 8 tracks on offer. It is slow and steady; a winding collection of gargantuan riffage that could move mountains with its heaviosity and burn heavens with its occult aura. This isn’t merely Doom, but DOOOOOOOM!

It’s important enough to say again.

DOOOOOOOM!

That’s better.

This album’s a bit of a belter really, the kind of album where the riffs suck you in, slooowly chew you up and slooowly spit you out. Slow isn’t their only speed and they know when to raise the tempo and rock out a bit when the mood is right. And you’d better get out of their way because when they do they mean business.

Pilgrim rule.