Astrophobos - Remnants of Forgotten Horrors
Triumvirate Records
Melodic Black Metal
8 songs (44' 43")
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Andy

Swedish black metal outfit Astrophobos's first LP, Remnants of Forgotten Horrors, eschews the Satanic imagery of their brethren in favor of Lovecraftian themes, and (the first thing that struck me about this album), they rhyme their lyrics instead of relying on the stream-of-consciousness poetry. For those who don't care about that sort of thing, however, there is still plenty to enjoy in this well-produced album that still has enough uncompromising black metal fire in it to pass muster, showing that the fine production of their first EP was no fluke.

Starting with a storm of tremolo-picked guitar, Soul Disruptor actually has a more measured pace through the rest of the song, but it's the kind of measured pace that characterized some of the more bombastic tracks of early Immortal. In contrast to the often-used lineup of one or two all-in-one musicians and a drummer, Astrophobos has two guitarists and a bassist, and relies on a guest drummer. They use this arrangement to the fullest on many of the songs, with lots of harmony on the picking and dramatic pauses for a single guitar to pound home a riff into the listener's skull, even some solos. Vocalist/bassist Mikael Broman has a mid-range shriek that solidly backs the guitars but doesn't stand out as a memorable part of the band's sound, and one gets the impression that Astrophobos puts much of its effort into the part that does stand out the most: the songwriting. Not only are songs like Winds of Insanity or The Malevolent Firmament picture-perfect black metal tracks, the precision of the guitarists in laying down a harsh yet beautifully harmonized set of hooks drives the whole album, aided by an excellent production that doesn't bury any individual instrument, which has occasionally happened on black metal albums that are heavy on the production value.

The songs also have a good deal of variety internally; for example, Detestable Illumination is a bit slower-paced on the choruses and instrumentals (though the instrumental portion builds up from quiet clean picking to furious riffing), but the verses are short and clipped with Broman snarling them as fast as he can get the words out. There are no quiet tracks on this album, and while Invocating the Void drops back to a slower, more plodding pace for a moment or two, that's just an intro; the song is just as full of tremolo picking as its predecessors, though it seems like in this one, Broman's bass drives the song more than the guitars. The final track, Celestial Calamity, a song about Cthulhu taking over the world when the stars are right, starts with only a little melody, but as the chorus comes in, the melody takes on an atmospheric grandeur, pausing for a moment halfway through the track with a gently picked tune that slowly builds back up into the main riff. All the tracks are great, but this one has an epic quality to it that matches the theme and ends the album on a high note.

Remnants of Forgotten Horrors is a release that any black metal fan will have no trouble getting into, and the quality of their sound and songwriting ability gives Astrophobos an extra few inches over the many traditional black metal bands that play in the style of their second-generation influences. If one likes orthodox black metal in the style of the second generation, this should be an easy choice to pick up.


Killing Songs :
All of them, though Celestial Calamity is a standout
Andy quoted 89 / 100
Alex quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Astrophobos that we have reviewed:
Astrophobos - Malice of Antiquity reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Astrophobos - Enthroned in Flesh reviewed by Alex and quoted 73 / 100
Astrophobos - Arcane Secrets reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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