Saturday, August 1, 2020

Full Length Review: Astral Winter "Perdition II" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Astral Winter
Location: Launceston, Tasmania
Country: Australia
Genre: Epic melodic black metal
Full Length: Perdition II
Format: Jewel case CD, digital album
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: July 31, 2020
Astral Winter’s fourth full length, in a way, is like a continuation of the concepts of their previous full lengths, “Winter Enthroned” (2011), “Perdition” (2013) and “Forest of Silence” (2016). As with those albums, “Perdition II” reiterates that there are no rules when it comes to subgenres of metal, that metal and poetics can and do exist hand in hand. “Perdition II” achieves it without the benefit of lyrics, as founding member Josh Young (also of Atra Vetosus, Hammerstorm and Lost In Desolation) seems to do more than set moods, he tells a story and makes it feel real to the listener. This album has a tranquil effect if you like black metal with Celtic and classical themes, acoustic guitars and keyboard instruments and/or lasting impressions of nature in the season when everything is in slumber. The coldness around you, the grayness above, the distant mountains and even the snow falling everywhere you look… Young has a way of convincing you it’s all genuine enough to touch and feel. He wrote these instrumental tracks as a means of accompanying a personal journey through the afterlife, while leaving it open for interpretation. My own impressions of this album were of something darker and more despondent underneath all this. One perception I had was that the album leads you to mourn the long forgotten time often celebrated by black and death metal bands, and to feel all-encompassing solitude bearing down on you. It feels like you are searching for a way in or a way to reawaken that age, and it eternally eludes you. The feeling is all the more mournful because that world you yearn to reach is far preferable to the present day, and it grows more intense with each passing track. It personifies the feeling of growing old, not only growing old in our physical world but knowing you’ll continue to age in the world beyond. Most albums introduce you to such otherworldly characters; while listening to “Perdition II” you become this despondent spirit. All the instruments by Young as well as the background vocals are mixed to properly put this concept across, with enough in the foreground to present emptiness and enough in the background to present the unreachable paradise that ceases to be ages ago. The sounds of nature mixed in enhance this desolate barrenness, this emptiness, making it all the more tangible. However it speaks to you, “Perdition II” is beautifully written and arranged, allowing you to share in the journey he paves the way for. –Dave Wolff

Lineup
Josh Young: Vocals, all instruments, composition

Track list:
1. Corridors Of Time
2. Light Of The Cosmos
3. Ethereal Light
4. Fading From The Skies
5. Dreams Of The Stars
6. Crystal Tears
7. The Celestial Age
8. At The Gates Of Creation
9. Withering Illusion