ASTRALBORNE – Across The Aeons
RELEASE YEAR: 2023
BAND URL: https://astralborne.bandcamp.com/
Other than the perfect debut from Majesties Vast Reaches Unclaimed²⁰²³ I reviewed here I have not run into a melodic death metal album recently that would so clearly echo the Gothenburg founding fathers of the genre (At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames) while remaining fairly unique, that is, until I happened upon the 2nd full length (after the independent Eternity’s End²⁰¹⁹, vinyl on Prosthetic Records in 2020) from the Ohioan trio Astralborne, the very genre typically named Across The Aeons²⁰²³ released on July 28th by Prosthetic Records (yes, of the Fires In The Distance and early Lamb Of God fame).
Indeed, although slightly inferior to Majesties’ masterpiece, Across The Aeons²⁰²³ is a feast for even a passing melodeath fan to say nothing of maniacs such as myself, and I think its charm is in no small part to genre crossings into folk, thrash, power metal as well as the symphonic and progressive faces of death metal to compliment the classic sounding framework. Paul Fuzinski (bass, vocals) and Jayson Cessna (drums) fire up on all 12 cilinders like BMW while the single guitarist Derik Smith plays duels with himself as if he were schizophrenic, that’s how convincing the impression is and the shock when you realize its just a one man army guitarist.
As you all know, I am a sucker for addictive melodies and Astralborne has them in spades, be they in a number of 8 in the first track proper, the perfect “War Vessel”, 5 in the short but triple chorused and still perfect “Skybreaker”, 9 melodies of the favorite and, too, perfect “Paradigm Shift” or the whopping 12 melodies of the serpentine progressive title track that nears 10 minutes which has Death’s “Perrenial Quest” among its closest relatives, and, speaking of Symbolic¹⁹⁹⁵ album which it concludes , remember how the melodies perfectly complimented the brutal riffage? Yeah, that’s what’s up here. In fact, the single reason why the album is only 5.5/6 is that the remaining tracks are all 5.5/6, fantastic but short of perfection.
There are some excursions to German metalcore a’la Heaven Shall Burn (Gemini) but it mostly appeals to its more melodeath nature, and a welcome allusion to Megadeth’s 90s melodiscism (Star Of Extinction) and even, as if wasn’t so obvious who their biggest and clearest influence was, a riveting symphonic death cover of In Flames’ “December Flower”, all of which just fits neatly and nicely together, and, even my usual gripes, such as the intros, interludes, instrumentals and outros are all cool and well fitted. It’s like I’m listening to The Jester Race¹⁹⁹⁶ or The Gallery¹⁹⁹⁵ or Slaughter Of The Soul¹⁹⁹⁵ on one album. Delish. Do not let this one pass you by.