I’ve said it before and I will say it again – The Swedish are so fucking good at Black Metal. Always have been and probably always will be. I mean, Watain, Marduk, Funeral Pyre, Craft to name a few. Astrophobos are worthy company to those outfits, undoubtedly and Malice of Antiquity, across its nine tracks is cold hard evidence of this claim.
In the tradition of all great Black Metal, we have been made to wait. The band released their much loved debut EP way back in 2010, a full length in 2014, and an EP in 2016. Now, finally, album number two.
Was it worth the wait though? Well, a few moments into ‘Fire of Catharsis’ seems to point to yes. Astrophobos really take advantage of the two guitar players, Martin Andersson and Jonas Ehlin. They harmonize most of their tremolo picked riffs and also beef out the sound with power chords in places too. These two and their main tracks are panned hard right and left so you can really hear how they work together and how tight they are. The super sinister ‘Descending Shadows’ is awesome to listen to in head phones to hear the two intertwining to create the thick atmosphere.
Pulverizing, chilling, and melodic, the brilliantly named ‘Abattoir of Flesh and Faith’ sounds more like an outtake from mid period Marduk, and that’s a good thing. Vocalist, Micke, is very easy to understand and with lyrics as savage as on this track, they are not wasted.
Over the piece, Astrophobus are very clever with track listing and pacing so that you feel the maximum effect of the bands sonic assault. This is very well thought out and intelligent Black Metal that could very well be used a gateway band for the genre. Hail Sweden, you have done it again!