Asarmoth – Princess Of The Darkness

What if the likes of Steve von Till or Scott Kelly from Neurosis decided to mix folk and death metal together in their studio and made it feel like an improv jam session? That is pretty much what one will think they are hearing from Italy’s solo act Asarmoth led by Gigi Casini. The music here is pretty raw quality- almost demo like- so those looking for a cleanly polished album will not find that here, and the twists and turns between folk and grunting death metal almost seem haphazard, but it is interesting enough to garner some attention for those who like the genres mixed together.

Although Asarmoth would like to consider itself death metal alone, one cannot deny when hearing the opening ‘Thrones of Alabaster’ on the 2020 full length debut “Princess Of The Darkness” that the solemn stringing and spoken word singing are certainly reminiscent of folkish artists such as mentioned above. It is very simple but effective at drawing listeners in instead of blasting them with a full on death metal assault. That of course comes later with down tuned guitars, groove laden growls, and chugging drums that make the music sound a bit like a Six Feet Under demo. There is no technicality here, no lush symphonics, just a guy with vocals, guitars, and programmed drums, and then suddenly after all the grim assault things slow down again to just the single stringing, like he’s taking a moment to tune the guitar or just dig up some new inspiration. It is interesting to hear because it all feel improv’d over a span over 12 minutes, but then again other more seasoned bands like Opeth have done that too on long tracks like ‘Atonement.’

All the other tracks on the album are certainly not as long as the first and seem to have a little more focus. ‘Princess Of The Darkness’ balances the folk and death metal elements more in the vein of That Man And Me from Behemoth Nergal’s side project, but doesn’t let up on the groove. There is even some psychedelic slide guitar in there to mix things up. Other tracks like ‘Trench Warfare’ are more strictly death metal with little use for layered or clean vocals at any point, but with the raw quality mixed with the groove one will certainly feel they are hearing something from the “Warpath” era of Six Feet Under, albeit much rawer quality. Then there are the scattered instrumental tracks like ‘Everlasting Fire’ where Casini sounds like he’s trying to find the right notes while adding in sporadic psychedelic notes, like testing the waters of his own album. Again, very haphazard and it may turn off some listeners with how these interludes are kind of all over the place, but it can be appreciated for trying to avoid making the album sound like standard death metal.

For those looking for full on ferocity with a little bit of technicality, ‘Fight Till The Death’ is about is heavy as it comes. Part of this is due to the drop in production, especially on the guitars. The vocals are extra brutal here as they are pushed into the front with the guitars and drums a bit fuzzed out, save for the single string moments versus the buzzing riffs. The same can be said for ‘Reign Of The Impaler’ which slows things down slightly for more of that groove feel again, but it doesn’t do too much the differentiate from the previous track. Finally, another interlude instrumental is thrown in the end to simmer things down, but the string choices used sound just like the ones used on the first track. Whether it was meant to be a rehash or not, listeners might feel it is again another jam session. Still, overall this raw debut is on par with the likes of other artists like Xasthur whose “Nocturnal Poisoning” was a bit out there and certainly sounded of demo quality, but it grew. In time Casini’s Asarmoth may grow on listeners as well provided they give him a few spins. “Princess Of The Darkness” isn’t for everyone but it has potential with its mix of genres.

3 / 5 STARS

Self released
Reviewer: Colin McNamara

Apr 26, 2021

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Asarmoth – Princess Of The Darkness

review Asarmoth - Princess Of The Darkness

1. Thrones Of Alabaster
2. Princess Of The Darkness
3. Trench Warfare
4. Mesmerized
5. Everlasting Fire
6. Fight Till The Death
7. Reign Of The Impaler
8. Through The Waters Of Styx

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