Spectral Descent
Descending the Astral Plane

First things first; hats off to Spectral Descent for being able to pique my interest in such a way that I damn near couldn’t wait to hear their debut album, Descending the Astral Plane. You see friends, like many of you, I love death metal. Love it! Luckily, I was a present and accounted for metal head during the initial death metal explosion of the 1990’s. So, when a band such as Spectral Descent starts throwing around names in their bio/press release such as Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, Death, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Malevolent Creation and Master, I tend to sit up a little straighter and take note (even though every death metal band from here to Nibiru cites these same influences). Yet, when names of other death metal acts like Oppressor, Krabathor, Cancer, and Broken Hope start getting thrown around, then look out, ‘cuz mentioning those bands will have me fighting for the prime seat in the front of the class.

So, does Descending the Astral Plane deliver the goods? Does it fall short, destined to be enslaved in the fiery pits of third and fourth-tier level acts that have just as much influence from a paint by numbers/connect the dots activity book than any classic/godly death metal release of yore? The answer, a simple yes…and uh, no. Both band and album are clearly competent, capable, skillful, and passionate enough to cut the death metal mustard, but unfortunately, the songs just aren’t original enough.

Sporting a straight up old school production, the seven tracks that make up Descending the Astral Plane are products of influence, and the influence is easily spotted. Whether it’s the Six Feet Under meets Cannibal Corpse groove and pacing of “Maze Runner” and “Cold Dead Stare”, or “Sun Eater” and its slight Death and heavy Cannibal Corpse pummeling, or the total ’90’s era Cannibal Corpse worship (anyone see a pattern here?) that is “Devil’s Teeth, “Wormwood”, and “The Gates of Blairsden”, Descending the Astral Plane doesn’t just wear its influences on its sleeve; it flaunts them in the bling -iest of bling fashion for the world to see. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to imply that Descending the Astral Plane is in any way a bad album, because it’s not. In fact it’s good, sometimes really good, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it, but the truth is the album makes me want to listen to the bands that Spectral Descent are influenced by more than hit the re-play button on this debut release.

All in all, Spectral Descent have created an enjoyable and solid affair in Descending the Astral Plane. If this album would have been released 20 to 25 years go, it would most likely, be heralded as a bonafide classic. As it stands though, here in 2017, Descending the Astral Plane is simply a sum, good as it may be, of its death metal parts.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
April 25th, 2017

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