Costa Rica might not be the first place you’d point to on a map as a source for dismal, rough-and-tumble death metal but after sampling some of Astriferous’ work you’d not be dismissed for doing so. After several small releases in the form of splits and EPs, the debut full-length album Pulsation From the Black Orb has finally been released and the inertia from all of their past output can be felt from beginning to end.
If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past you’ll know that a real bugaboo of mine are pointless, atmospheric intro tracks that are more than likely intended to set the tone for what follows. Most of the time these tracks feel out of place, pointless, and incongruent with the rest of the album. Thankfully, Astriferous sidestepped that mishap and start their album as a reference to the album’s title and it just works, straight up. It builds tension, is right in line with the sonic textures that the rest of the album plays with and feels like a part of the album, not a disposable three minutes. Thankfully what follows is even better.
Death metal, especially old-school death metal, is in the middle of quite a resurgence lately and while this space is getting more crowded by the week, those that stand out become quite obvious. After their splits and EP, I have had a feeling that Astriferous were onto something special with their approach to this sound and with Pulsations… they lean even further into what makes them great by expanding into doom territory when appropriate. “Metasymbiosis” is the perfect melding of old-school death metal chunky riffing with a mid-paced stomp that effortlessly slides into a death doom song in the latter half. The incredible tones that are conjured from their instruments has time to breathe and marinate while the vocal attack coats the entire thing with an extra layer of murk.
“Forlorn and Immemorial” is a well-placed acoustic instrumental that bridges the A and B sides of the album and the blistering first notes that come storming in thereafter are from one of the strongest set of riffs the whole album has on “Ominous and Malevolent.” The final moments of this track are made truly monstrous by the expanded vocal effects that make you feel as if your final moments are imminent.
As with all death metal albums, pacing is key. Thankfully, this album knows that and while the songs all feel as if they do indeed belong together, there is enough variety from the doom moments, acoustic interlude, and that fantastic intro track to make Pulsations… feel like a set of complete thoughts. The production is on point for music of this ilk with each instrument feeling caked in a corporeal stew that has its own malicious consciousness. It just seems that over time the band has worked out all the kinks and know where to aim and have hit the target squarely.
If you’ve been enjoying the current wave of death metal that seems to be cropping up on a weekly basis, then this album is for you. If you’re a fan of death doom that isn’t afraid of laying into a groove, this album is for you. This is a band that is moving up with every subsequent release and the arrival of the debut album is worth not only visiting but celebrating. This is a crowded field but Astriferous are standing out from the pack by knowing not only how to write songs, but also how to put an album together. Pulsations From the Black Orb has been in constant rotation for me since release and I can’t see that changing any time soon.