Astarium / Fire Messiah - Split

Here we have 2 black metal bands but very different sounds. The first is Astarium from Russia, headed since 2005 solely by Sin. Sin creates a more symphonic atmospheric black metal similar to a mix of very early Cradle of Filth mixed with early Satyricon. Expect a very wintery feel with the croaked vocals, buzz saw guitars, and landscape of lush keyboard melodies. Tracks like ‘Her Winter Majesty’ feature the more synth driven Old Man’s Child melodies and also the more organ COF ones, but the core of the vocals and guitar tones keep the sound still very raw.

Then there are other tracks like “The Wind-Walker” which are more guitar focused; they symphonics are pushed in back while Sin’s multi angled vocal approach touches on the more stripped down atmospheric acts like that of Striborg. While certainly not polished but also not a mystic fog like Moon, those who enjoy more ‘kvlt’ sounding acts with a wintery majestic touch like that of Summoning will find this one man group something to enjoy, if only for 3 tracks.

The 2nd half of the album is by Fire Messiah, solely Nick Stewart from the U.S.A., is a new project that just started in 2021, but Nick has been busy in the last year with 2 full length albums already and a new one coming soon. Fire Messiah is a bit more raw black metal than Astarium, almost a ‘hyper-blast’ type due to the drum style that touches on near industrial moments much like Zyklon. Like Astarium, Nick uses the keyboards for support mostly but in a more 80s sci-fi way, like if Perturbator went more black metal. A little cheesy sounding when considering a track like ‘Cerebral Warfare,’ but it is still catchy at the same time. Vocally, Nick shrouds himself more with the guitars and keyboards, adding in that mystical touch similar to thar of Xasthur.

However, the overall sound is less droning and has a little more of that upbeat touch to it, much like a group such as Kovenant does. ‘Flirting with the End’ involves more spacey keyboards, really bringing out the 80s flair but still keeping that evil, raw sound going with the guitars. The vocals are a little more traditional in the black metal vein, so those looking for something different with the croaked spoken words might enjoy Astarium more.

However, Fire Messiah does feel like it has a little more life to it, making listeners unaware if they are listening to black metal or dance metal. Overall, 2 different approaches, but both still cold and kvlt, so black metal elitists might enjoy it somewhat, but this type is more for the open minded black metal fans who enjoy a lot of synth work with their corpsepaint.

3.5 / 5 STARS

1. Her Winter Majesty
2. Echo Of Nifilheim
3. The Wind-Walker
4. Cerebral Warfare
5. Flirting With The End
6. Misadventures In Creation