Legions of Astaroth
Rites of Somatic Death

Featuring members of black/doom act Eyes of Ligeia and Crimson Moon, Atlanta’s Legions of Astaroth have been plying their trade since 2004, culminating in this solid debut of frosty, grim and mildly atmospheric black metal.

While most of the metal media seems to take heed of the more artistic side of US black metal (Krallice, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc), or its more depressive elements (Xasthur, Leviathan and their clones) the fact is acts like Averse Sefira, Kult of Azazel, and Legions of Astaroth are playing a very competent form of classic, Scandinavian inspired black metal – and I don’t mean the likes of Sothis or Abigail Williams.

With a clear but grainy production and emphasis on frosty, oft melodic and precise riffage, one might think of the likes of Dissection, Marduk (lite) and such but with a bit more pacing and melody. There are no synths (other than the intro), but the band does delve into some slower more atmospheric sections here and there, but it’s never one man basement black metal realms. But for everything the album does right with its solid riffs and Scandinavian prose, its not quite ‘there’ as far as staying power. Nothing on the album truly seethes or bites with tangible malevolence, despite some decent moments that vary from tremolo picked fury to moody mid paced marches all contained within the 10 tracks (i.e. “Discipline Regarding The Will To Conjure”, “The Temple Within (Becomes As Essence Without)”, “Chaos From The Infernal Mouth (Breathes Life Thus Duality)”) but I can safely say I never really was blown away or eager to revisit a track or riff, though “Forms Made Flesh” came close and the atmospheric closing of final track, “Cursed Unto an Agless Dawn” has some promise.

And while vocalist Occaxial is rasping titles like the above or “Science Of Threefold Initiation” and “Nescience Conjoined To Self”, don’t be fooled, the songs aren’t as complex or intellectual as the titles would have you believe, which makes things a little superficial in my eyes. That all being said, Rites of Somatic Death is a relatively solid if unspectacular (and at 54 minutes, slighty drawn out) US entry into black metal that makes no bones about its influences and isn’t trying to be artsy fartsy or suicidal. Plus, the Cd layout from Enucleation is pretty cool.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 7th, 2010

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