Review: “Corpus” by Astrophobos

Returning for their third orbit around the Sun are Swedish Black Metal act Astrophobos who have chosen to take the left hand path and the road less travelled with “Corpus”. Collaborating with artists Lisa Wallert and Morgan Norman they have chosen to create not only a record that explores themes of impermanence, death and decay but also to provide a visual aspect with sculpture and photography that will not only be reflected in the albums artwork but also with an exhibition and live show taking placing to Stockholm to celebrate the records release. Mixed and mastered by Marco Mastrobueno (Fleshgod Apocolypse, Hour of Penance) at Kick Recording Studios and featuring session drums by Simon Samuelsson (ex-Ofermod) as well as guest vocals by Elisabetta Marchetti (Inno, ex-Riti Occulti), the albums lyrics are for the first time entirely in Swedish…

Since their formation in 2009 Astrophobos have been praised for their melodic and yet brutal offerings to the Metal Gods and their last album “Malice of Antiquity” is widely considered their finest work and despite the artistry that has gone into this, it remains the bands music that people will come far and wide for. To that end the album comes to life with the chanting of “Corpus” and it seems that vocalist Micke Broman is far more comfortable delivering his barbed lyrics in his mother tongue than in English. His performance across the album is a dry throated and raspy one, like a man possessed tearing pieces of the lyric from the page like flesh from bone and there is no overarching need to speak the language to understand the picture that is being painted although taking a minute to translate the song titles helps. All  you really need to know is that there are themes of annihilation and a fear of death that run though the material and that is has been typically inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft and a love of Cosmic Horror. As a session musician Samuelsson deserves a lot of credit because his performances and in particular on “Utrotning” (or “Eradication“) are immense, not only accompanying the bands music but elevating it. Offering perhaps something a little more folk inspired “Till djupet” (or “To the depths“) has a slower, more menacing flow to it with the melancholic aspects of the song writing providing something of a sinister almost fairy tale quality as if a tale from the Brothers Grimm’s untold works. A return to the rampaging onslaught with “Nattvard” (or “Communication“) is a welcome move and Samuelsson brings a tsunami of blast beats to get the adrenaline flowing like the blood wine at the table of the sacrifice, which helps create a smouldering piece of swirling Black Metal with riffs that pack plenty of fiery punch. As a second wave of Black Metal group with any sense of anything raw in the production has been cast aside in favour of a sweeping and complex set of arrangements that build on traditional roots however as good as the album is there isn’t all that much to set it apart from the pack. It’s not that it doesn’t have all the right component parts or that it doesn’t sounds great; it’s just that it’s a little too familiar and similar to the works of others in the same niche. That is especially telling towards the tale end of the record with “Svärta” (or “Black“) and “Under jord” (or “Underground“), which are both crying out for something more [7/10]

Track listing

1. Corpus
2. Utrotning
3. Till djupet
4. Nattvard
5. Svärta
6. Liktal
7. Under jord

Corpus” by Astrophobos is out 12th November via Triumvirate Records and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp

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