"The harmonies are subtle but visible amidst the predominantly dark layered ambience, allowing the hooks of the track to pierce your skin and play you like a marionette, taking full control of your body while defiantly tormenting your soul".
Canada's PANZERFAUST will be unleashing their highly anticipated sixth album The Astral Drain, forming the third chapter of "The Suns of Perdition" tetralogy on 22nd July and it is a disturbing and jet-black journey, documenting mankind's descent into madness, opening the door to a chamber of horrors that unleash the terror and trepidation of our own wrongdoing. This pilgrimage of sorts is littered in disquiet, and a foreboding paranoia the seeps deep within the soul, conjuring up images of despair, and drains all hope from the body. The Astral Drain is not for the faint hearted, or for those who sleep lightly, this is a nightmare, where sleep paralysis deadens the mind and body allowing PANZERFAUST to consume and conquer.
Hells gates open with the backdrop of lashing rain and screams of despair, before the power and the down-trodden atmosphere makes way for the opening track, Death-Drive Projections. Deep, Throaty vocals dance under the sorcery of mid-tempo drums and bleak, harsh guitars that distort and muffle through every chord. The terrain is dark but layered with some deeply atmospheric passages that give the track a trance inducing feel to it, all the time building in intensity and growing ever so sombre. It rumbles along, dormant and patient as lead guitar bleed from a wailing wall of noise, bringing the first track to an almighty end.
The First interlude of the album, The Fear brings with it reverb and menace. The single chords hang like dense fog, before bringing forth with it B22: The Hive And The Hole. Two toned death growls narrate and tear at the throat before the blackened percussions and heavy rhythm guitars are uncloaked, left bare and uncoiled. The harmonies are subtle but visible amidst the predominantly dark layered ambience, allowing the hooks of the track to pierce your skin and play you like a marionette, taking full control of your body while defiantly tormenting your soul.
And it’s The Pain that is echoed through the next interlude, before Bonfire Of The Insanities bring with them reflections of Slayer’s South Of Heaven, with their slowly strummed chords, revealing a deep distant vocal that morphs into a mass gregorian chant which is both haunting and deeply melancholic. This track truly is a blueprint for great black-metal vocals, with the varied depths and ranges being showcased, illustrating the beauty and turmoil that is to be found in the black-metal genre.
The Fury interlude leads us into the first, dare I say up-tempo track! The music brings with it more purpose as The Far Bank At The River Styx unleashes a post-black gallop that tears the earth underfoot to smithereens. Double kicks and shredded riffs along with a barrelling base summon a storm, that pulverises and blows the album wide open. It’s a fierce and bloodthirsty track that’s layered with bleak atmospherics and a wicked melody.
The Final interlude Enantodromia brings the final track Tabula Rasa to us for one final assault. I’m not sure it will bring with it a clean slate though, as everything that has gone before it has left a deep scar that will take forever to heal, but this doesn’t stop the tribal drums and manic musicianship to swallow you up once more in a tirade of blackened magnificence that closes an album that won’t be forgotten for a long time to come.
In my opinion, The Astral Drain stands as PANZERFAUST's most accomplished and ambitious work to date, unearthing great depth and measured complexity within its song writing, and inventiveness that can only be found buried deep beneath its black-metal headstone. A superb release.