Black metal, and metal in general, is generated from tons of different places, a lot of them predictable. And predictability isn’t a negative, necessarily, as long as the music has the proper spark. But when the music comes from somewhere unexpected, or just different, it could be enough to make you sit up and take notice. Again, if the art itself is worth your attention.
As far as “Corpus,” the new record from Swedish black metal entity Astrophobos, the expected can be tossed out the window, because they hardly fell back on old traits. Instead, they immersed themselves in different art forms for their third record, namely sculpture, photography, and music, as well as Lisa Wallert and Morgan Norman’s work that helped the band—vocalist/bassist Micke Broman, guitarists Martin Andersson and Jonas Ehlin (drums were performed on a session basis by Simon Samuelsson)—realize their vision for these songs. What’s contained is black metal that is channeled and destructive, but it also feels like a cut above the rest, likely due to the inspiration that drove their performances.
“Corpus” gets off to a ripping start with Broman’s vile growls hanging in the air alone, carving at you, and once the rest of the band kicks in, it’s off to the races. The riffs stir as the atmosphere gets dangerously cold with the vocals digging into guts, the leads slicing, and everything ending the way it started, with Broman croaking into the void. “Utrotning” rips open with no warning, hammering you with melodic guitars and an approach that aims to deface. The track is both savage and pretty damn catchy as the riffs encircle and enrapture, and the vocals dig in those final daggers that stick under your ribs. “Till djupet” enters with clean guitars, and then the guts are ripped anew as vile growls make their way through the mud. A forceful path is carved as the guitars swirl with reckless abandon, the bass thickens and cuts tributaries, and the track trickles out into space.
“Nattvard” delivers huge gusts and whipping melodies as the guitars lather, and gruff growls add to the bruising. The playing feels like it hurtles through the stars as vicious growls mangle, and the track speeds toward an abrupt end. “Svärta” is clean and eerie as it begins, and the playing mesmerizes as the storm begins to collect. The vocals deliver a dagger as your bloodstream is activated, and the track keeps gaining momentum until it bleeds into noise. “Liktal” drills viciously as the riffs pulse, and the growls stagger through blood. The guitars carve away, and then the melodies get more colorful, paving the way for catchy growls, creaky punishment, and a furious finish that leaves you dizzy. “Under jord” closes the album with sorrowful guitars piercing before the playing tramples, and the growls aim to agitate wounds. The delirious playing has a folk-like vibe to it, crushing and seething, going into pockets of numbing heaviness. Clean female choral sections chill the flesh and leave your mind wandering, leading you out to conclude your journey in misery.
“Corpus” is a headier record than your average slab of black metal as Astrophobos use their diverse inspirations to craft something dangerous and alluring, an experience different than merely a delivery of seven new songs. The playing is savage and inspired, and there is plenty of infectious power that keeps your imagination working from front to back. This is a punishing and thought-provoking record that might help more adventurous listeners to expand their artistic palates as well.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/astrophobos
To buy the album, go here: https://astrophobos.bandcamp.com/album/corpus
For more on the label, go here: http://www.triumviraterecords.com/