Astora – The First Flame

Astora finally unleash their full length debut after a few Eps with “The First Flame.” Hailing from Slovenia, this one person band spearheaded by Gedo delvers some great riff laden melodic death metal that leans towards progressive as well, touching on groups like Edge of Sanity and even some old school death metal in the vein of very early Opeth (with no clean vocals). The riffs are the focal point of the music on tracks like ‘The First Flame’ with some almost folk metal moments with the guitar structure, and certainly on a track like ‘Illusory Euphoria.’ With way that Gedo structures his drum patterns it almost seems technical at times. The death growls do feel a little ‘separate’ from the rest of the music with how they are inserted in the mix, but the same was said about Edge Of Sanity’s “Crimson” and almost every melodic death metal fan says they love that album, so Astora are on the right track. At least the vocals at least aren’t pushed back into the mix so much that they aren’t audible, but also don’t overwhelm it so the keyboards or drums can’t be heard either which can tend to be an issue with a lot of raw sounding melo death bands.

‘Fate Of The Undead’ tends to forsake the melody for just raw, buzzing speed and thunderous tones, slowing things down more for a grim, old school death metal track, and the echoing vocals have great effect here. Things get very interesting with ‘Sun Seeker’ as Gedo forsakes the melodic riffs and keyboards for some very quiet, jazzy bass work which when combined with the drums shows his more progressive size. This might throw listeners off a bit who were going on the momentum earlier in the track but it still sounds pretty good and even might be a nice break from the fuzzy assault of the guitars. ‘Perished’ is a brief acoustic interlude, and perhaps a nod to the earlier EPs which featured a lengthier track that had the same title. ‘Hourglass Of Sand’ also has its progressive interlude just like “Sun Seeker”did, but overall the heavy chugging is still in the old school death metal vein and less in the melodic one. Still, the heavier elements as just as impressive as the melodic bits and Gedo shows more technical prowess with the speed rather than deliver the same catchy melodies over and over again.

The two closing tracks are bonuses, and one can tell there is a shift in production there. The music seems louder, more in one’s face, and a little more cleanly produced. ‘Ekstaza…’ is more of the same with the melodic death metal riffing going on in the beginning of the track and then quieting down for the progressive elements before exploding again, but the vocals sound a bit more mixed in a balance with everything else. ‘Painters Of Despair’ is a surprise because of how it just hits listeners right in the face, sounding more like a thrash attack than anything else. The only downside to this track is the guitars are way in the front and the vocals are buried in the back, a pitfall that Astora did not get swallowed up in with the rest of the album. But, this is in no way a bad track; the last minute or so even lets Gedo touch on doom metal with the slower, more drawn out riffs. In short, for those who like riff heavy melodic death metal with progressive moments that isn’t bogged down by clean vocals or electronic/ symphonic elements and just showcases some awesome guitars and drumming, then “The First Flame” will be an exciting listen.

3.5 / 5 STARS 

Self released
Reviewer: Colin McNamara

Feb 16, 2021

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Astora – The First Flame

review Astora - The First Flame

1. The First Flame
2. Darkness Within Ourselves
3. Illusory Euphoria
4. Fate Of The Undead
5. Sun Seeker
6. Perished
7. Hourglass Of Sand
8. Father Of The Abyss
9. Ekstaza Smriti (Bonus Track)
10. Painters Of Despair (Bonus Track)

3.5

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