Finnish five-piece Astral Sleep is primarily a Doom Metal band, though they are more than just an average Doom Metal band. They mix Psychedelic Rock, Death Metal, Progressive, and Sludge. This allows them to be more than just one simple thing; instead, they blend divergent textures to create a unique fabric that will cover you in clean and harsh vocals and smooth melodies while intricate patterns amaze the senses.
- Markus Heinonen – Vocals/Guitars
- Rolle Heinonen – Keyboards
- Santeri Kangasmetsä – Guitars
- Jaakko Oksanen – Bass
- Jiri Pyörälä – Drums
April 21, 2023 – Saarni Records https://www.saarnimusic.com
- We Are Already Living In The End Of Times
- Torment In Existence
- Invisible Flesh
- The Legacies
- Time Is
- Status Of The Soul
Dissonant guitars bring this album to bear. “We Are Already Living In The End Of Times” takes its’ time to begin in earnest, running about a full minute before the Doom heavy guitar riff enters. The harsh vocals come next, and the Sludgy/Doomy tones hover, slowly drawing you into the melody. Clean vocals come in, offsetting the harsh voice with a different timbre and a different feel.
“Torment In Existence” opens right into the main riff, immediately showing off the heavy rhythm. Harsh vocals deliver the first thoughts, then the cleans come in and turn the tables. Meanwhile, the rhythm never wavers, staying solid, almost dogmatic, in how it fills the soundscape. As heavy and dark as that track is, “Invisible Flesh” opens with a lighter tone intro. That intro is crushed by the heaviness of the main riff. The beat-per-minute count drops dramatically.
What these first three songs show is the range of Astral Sleep. They do not just perform a single style of Doom Metal, instead opting to roam, experiment with different tones and tempos, and manipulate these to affect the feel of the songs. “The Legacies” speeds up the tempo, working to change what you think of the music and how it impacts your emotion. The lighter guitar tones running through sections of the song, coupled with the clean vocals, alter the feeling and creates a more somber mood.
“Time Is” has a melodic intro again smashed by a massive riff/rhythm combo meant to shock the senses. Then, the final track comes in to wrap the whole album up into a theme that runs almost 10 minutes. “Status Of The Soul” will make you question your very existence. It has the time to shift tempos and tones, to go from dark to darker, melancholic to ethereal, thundering to subdued.
Astral Sleep uses different vocal tones to influence the emotion of the individual songs, much like any other band can, but you just don’t see as much of it in the Doom Metal genre. Their blend of vocals is quite nice, adding a lot of intricate tonality to their slow, heavy rhythms. The guitar work is precisely what you want, dark and deep for the riff and melodic and ethereal for the lead work. Doom can sound like this, and I’m good with it.
- Guitars – 8
- Rhythms – 8
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 8
- Overall – 8.40