Astora – The First Flame
‘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