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Astral Bodies - Escape Death | Album Review


Despite hailing from an area blighted by excessive light pollution, Manchester’s Astral Bodies clearly have their eyes set on the stars above. With a profound fascination of the void above and it’s divine secrets, whilst the space obsessed post-metal trio may be relatively new to the game, their debut gives the impression of a group that have been scene mainstays for a considerable time. Recorded at No Studio alongside the esteemed Joe Clayton (Pijn, Leeched, Earth Moves, Wren), the group’s debut record Escape Death is a release that densely showcases the isolation, abstract beauty and divine violence of the great unknown in tremendous form.

Whereas the group and respective contemporariness label their work as space-doom, such a term is far too restrictive to label the overall sound and ambience of Escape Death. Throughout this brief musical journey to the cosmos, the group probe a number of stylings and dynamics, showcasing a versatile and proven understanding of timbre and juxtaposition as the record progresses.

The space-race synth intro of ‘Neptune’ lifts the listener from the restraints of gravity before plunging them into the post-metal abyss of ‘Europa’ and ‘Oumuamua’. Much like the prior’s namesake, such tracks are icy and frostbitten demonstrations of post-metal ambience and strength. Monolithic and downturned riffs rise and resonate against an isolated ambience that harkens thoughts of post-metal titans such as Russian Circles, Pelican and the suitably akin God Is An Astronaut.

It’s not until ‘Orchidaceae’ that we see the more sombre shade of Astral Bodies glisten in the starlight. Tastefully key and distortion laden, the track is a haunting movement that soundtracks the celestial loneliness and unfathomable isolation of space. A respite from the post-metal dissonance from prior, it’s here where the ethereal and expansive nature of Escape Death becomes evident, a sentiment the following track ‘Equinox’ expands upon. A return to the ionising and planetary post-metal textures, the proceeding track see’s the band inter-blend slugging doom with celestial expansiveness resulting in a sound that’s simultaneously crushing, ethereally buoyant and dreamily stoned.

Distant penultimate track ‘Pale Horse’ see’s the band make usage of vocals for the first and only time on the record, but the track is only a stripped introduction to the crowing jewel of Escape Death - the 8 minute long ‘Mythic Phantoms’. This colossal closer showcases the true aptitude of the band and fusions all the elements showcased prior in a vibrant supernova of DIY metallic musical prowess. Furious astrally doomed riffs relent into more ambient atmospherics before introducing a disembodied saxophone; like an interstellar call from deep space, it captures one with suspire and ultimately proves irresistible. Hulking, deeply atmospheric and intoxicatingly climatic, it’s a finale that distantly harkens to the colossal payoffs enjoyed by bands such as Between The Buried And Me and Deafheaven at their most cinematic.

Whilst this may the first release from an act relatively unknown at this current time, Escape Death is a must listen for any fans of concentrated metallic ambience. To call this a journey may be too much of a faux pas and a cliché, but it’s an adventure not only to the great unknown hanging above us, but into the collective mind of an act who clearly have the skill, ambition and creativity required to make a crater within the UK DIY post-metal scene. If you want to soundtrack your next celestial journey with something considerably hefty, Astral Bodies have you covered with Escape Death.

Score: 8/10

Escape Death is released April 3rd via Surviving Sounds. You can pre-order the record here.

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