Astarte – Doomed Dark Years

Astarte – Doomed Dark Years – 4.5/5

Christ (pun intended), where to start with this band. Comprised of three women, one might easily overlook them, and you would be doing them a grave injustice, for this is more than the equal to the greats of the genre, from Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger” to Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse.” Slightly symphonic, but never forgetting the black, combining melody with unquestionable aggression and a demonic atmosphere, forget for a moment their gender, and let yourself become entranced by the darkness.

The atmosphere is thick; a demonic attack largely through guitars, providing high treble tremolo ferocity it dominates above the rest of the sound, to provide less of a memorable riff, and something more akin to a highly distorted apocalyptic doom like atmosphere. With keyboards assisting in creating an epic backing, or more prominently providing accompanying melodic riff sections, where guitars take a back seat, it assists in breaking up the pace of the track without losing the atmosphere.

Vying for control the drums feel on occasion lost in the backing, but when needed, she can make those cymbals crash for control, thundering through the guitars, the necessity for power in each strike lends a raw and aggressive tone, without resorting to specific poor production to create the chilling tone of an icy winter. And with a shriek the vocals apply themselves to far greater effect than most are capable of. High pitched, and with a tortured, hellish, and icy feel she adds a thick tone to accompany the atmosphere, more an instrument themselves than anything else greater.

This is a no frills roller coaster ride of black metal bliss, complete with accessible production values, an icy nature, and melodic evil interludes. Those looking for the rawest of the raw, or are afraid of a little melody seeping through in their quest for unashamed aggression should perhaps look elsewhere. For the rest of you, step into Astarte’s very own brand of the black.

Highlights: Thorns of Charon Part I, Doomed Dark Years, The Rise of Metropolis