Deep space is both an exciting and terrifying place to think about. On one hand, what is out there, and can we find life similar to, or even greater than ours? But on the other hand, what if you get trapped out there with nowhere to go and no hope of being saved? It’s a graveyard as terrifying and isolated as anything else in the galaxy.
Most likely no one will realize any of these realities in our lifetimes. That’s why we’re going to have to take that long, dark trip in our minds, and because of that, anything—horror or amazing discovery—is possible. Taking that sojourn along with us is Canadian atmospheric black metal duo Astral Path, whose debut album “An Oath to the Void” takes you on that icy adventure and helps you imagine any strange, alien terrain that comes your way. This music has its heaviness and savagery for sure, but so much of what they do floats through the Milky Way, past our galaxy, and into other, strange worlds that the duo creates with their interstellar sounds.
Astral Path only have been a band a little bit over a year now, having formed last January. The two forces here—guitarist/vocalist/drummer Justin Bourdeau and bassist/keyboardist Ana Dujakovic (Inviting End, Nightfall)—meld their sounds here perfectly, each bringing equal components of adventurous creativity to the mix. The goal for the band was to create a heady sound that pays homage to nature, the cosmos, and science, and it’s easy to imagine gazing into the night sky, identifying various star formations, and pointing to dots in the distance and imagining what might be going on there at that moment in time.
“Maroon Sea” begins the record with a long wooshing of keyboards, almost as if the track is lifting the traveler into the space capsule and getting ready for a long, serene trip. The guitars work their way in gently, at first chiming, then gazing, and finally hitting full explosion about halfway through the 10:05 run time. Melodic fury combines with wrenching cries, as the sing rumbles and burns and a gushing burst takes the song to its end. The title track follows, running 7:37 and heading into spiraling guitar work and a humid cloud of power. The shrieks cascade as the song’s bubble bursts, with melodies flooding, and dizzying playing igniting. Quiet waves slip in and out of the piece, and the final moments unleash a caterwaul of emotion and power, with growls hissing and the sounds fading.
“Between Appalachia and the Shield” runs just a second longer than its predecessor, and it starts in serenity, with the music swimming slowly, then harsh vocals and thick riffs entering the fray. The storming remains steady throughout the song, with guitars looping into the stars, wailing rushing over top, and a calming force taking over, leading the track to its end. “A Virulent Delusion” is the shortest song on the record and also the most dangerous. The pace is fast and mangling, an explosive burst of black metal that fires on all cylinders. The riffs are rich and dark, firing up and pushing aggressively and keeping things breathing fire. Closer “To Vega … Nebulous Anatomy” runs 10:48, with static and noise pulsing, a mid-tempo fog rising, and terrifying noise ripping apart the calm. The vocals sound like they could shred Bourdeau’s throat, with the track smothering before total silence arrives all of a sudden. That sits there for a stretch before a new electrical storm arrives, with blasts ripping, roars echoing, and everything slipping beyond this plane and into the next.
Astral Path’s adventure is just at its start, but what they’ve accomplished on “An Oath to the Void” is an exciting indication as to where this band could go in the future. Their grasp of the cosmos’ dark mysteries is imaginative and claustrophobic, and their soundtrack to what lies beyond could freeze you in your tracks. This record is perfect for a night when your personal chaos is high, and the only way to bring yourself back to life is by gazing into a deep ocean of stars.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/astralpath
To buy the album, go here: http://avantgardemusic.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.avantgardemusic.com/