Band: Astaroth Incarnate
Album: Omnipotence—The Infinite Darkness
Label: CDN Records
Genre: Black/Thrash/Death Metal
Release Date: 8 September, 2017
When I first popped this in to play it, I remember being excited. This sounded fresh and powerful and I was looking forward to really digging into it. A few days passed, I listened to some other bands, and when I went back to this, I was underwhelmed. What happened? I remembered being kind of thrilled and then…meh. So I let it sit another day and listened again. I watched the lyric video. I thought, wow, was I out of my mind during that first listen? And then I sat down and really paid attention.
I was right the first time.
Opener “Obscurity” is basically an invocation, a track where you can feel the band tuning up, getting ready to unleash the assault. That assault comes with track two, “Curse of the Black Plague.” Oh, you’ve got some Black Metal, a nice riff, and some frantic soloing. Not to mention those brutal vocals and the driving drums. This is really good and it hits all the right marks when you’re talking Blackened Thrash. It gallops along just fine. But it’s not remarkable. You can find the same sort of thing on albums by other bands. This doesn’t take away from its power and finesse, but it’s nothing new. And I think this was where I thought that maybe my initial excitement for the record was bogus. This was good, yes, even bordering on great, but it did nothing really new. (To be fair, doing something new is really, really hard to do in this era of oversaturation). Nice little breakdown three minutes into the song, though, when things slow down a bit, showcasing this band has dynamics, baby, and it has them in spades.
Third track, “Unfleshed,” is for me when things really take off. I love the swirling guitars, the relentless, pounding drums, the whispered atmospheric vocals, and then it settles into this magnificent, melodic groove. Oh, the heads are banging on this one. Astaroth’s vocals come in, raspy and evil, doing it just right. No, doing it better. He captures the essence here, the seething malevolence, and then he throws in some fantastic death growls, just to add some pepper to the stew. This is really good, almost extraordinary stuff, the band mixing many different styles together to create a terrific song. They don’t reinvent anything here, but they take it to the next, logical step. Oh, and those solos. Thank you for putting out something with deep feeling and emotion, and not just nattering bumblebee stings. Yes. And four minutes in, that groove, that headbanging awesomeness, punctuated by those growls and drumming. Yes, again.
Next up is “Sanctum of Torment,” and we get a few seconds to catch our breath with some instrumental atmosphere, and then this wonderful, sweeping, Maiden-esque guitar passage pops up, sweeping us into another great song. This one soars as much as it bashes, if such a thing is possible (it is!), the cymbal work and death growls giving it heft even as it takes flight. This song is a march through dark and cursed lands, relentless and unforgiving.
“Re-Creation” closes the album (is it over already?) by bringing back some of the speed in the earlier songs, the touches of Thrash and the Black (both of which never left, not really). And man, we get some guitar pyro in this one, swirling and ecstatic. This one has a bit more Prog to it but it never loses its aggression or power. Those vocals, man. It kind of summarizes where we’ve been on this record and where the band may be going in the future. Heavy, steady, ready to rock. And lest I forget, the bass playing on this record is pretty damned amazing, too.
I’m on the fence about whether or not to call this an EP. It runs around 33 minutes, and that’s long enough to be considered a record, but it’s just short enough to call it an EP. Mostly what I would call it is pretty damned good, and a great introduction to a new band. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they might do next. The gauntlet is thrown down with this one and the challenge is set for other bands to follow. Astaroth Incarnate step up the game with this release, mixing and melding many different styles and genres and creating a masterwork in the process. This one rocks, this one rolls, this one blows your face off while at the same time hitting all the right emotional and intellectual notes. Go get it.
2. Curse of the Black Plague
4. Sanctum of Torment
Total Playing Time: 32:10