It is a regrettable but inarguable fact that metal bands in many countries outside the commercial behemoths of North America and Western Europe face serious challenges in reaching waiting ears, notwithstanding the explosive spread of streaming services and other digital platforms. If anything, the ease with which underground bands and labels can digitally launch music has just made it harder for truly talented bands to get noticed, like nuggets of gold in a flooding river.
Which brings us to the Costa Rican death metal band Astriferous. It would go too far to say that they are unknown, because their pair of demos in 2019 and 2020, their 2020 EP The Lower Levels of Sentience, and their 2021 split with countrymen Bloodsoaked Necrovoid did earn them devoted fans well beyond their home shores. Yet it’s fair to say that they are still further below the radar than their music deserves.
Hopefully that is all about to change, thanks to a stunningly impressive debut album named Pulsations from the Black Orb that’s now set for international co-release in March by the well-known labels Me Saco Un Ojo and Pulverised Records.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the first single from the album (“Teleport Haze”) floored us, prompting our editor to immediately include it in one of our round-ups of recommended new music, accompanied by a swift reaction that branded it “a mind-bending amalgam of gargantuan monstrosity, mayhem, and madness”.
And thus it was both a turn of good fortune and an easy decision when we were later invited to host the premiere of the equally jaw-dropping second single, which you’re now about to experience for yourselves.
“Ominous and Malevolent” begins in a grim and brutal stomp, accented by squealing strings and spectral sounds of misery, but then erupts in a convulsion of battering drums, dense roiling and raking riffage, and spine-tingling roars that seem to reverberate from cavernous depths. It’s a startling and even frightening expression of derangement, but the enormous bass and spine-shaking drum-blows, combined with slashing chords, inflict jolting punishment as well.
In other words, there are bone-busting, gut-slugging grooves in the music as well as maniacal guitar-driven spasms, and on top of that, the instrumental performers change the riffs and the drum patterns with abandon, and a crazed fret-melter of a solo sends the song to even greater heights of delirium, while the vocals are relentlessly monstrous.
And so this is a prime example of death metal that’s utterly ferocious and as malevolent as the song title promises, but also technically impressive and constructed in a way that will give your head a swift and thrilling spin without completely jumping the rails.
Me Saco Un Ojo will handle the vinyl version of Pulsations from the Black Orb, while Pulverised will handle the CD version, and digital editions are also available. To state the obvious, the cover art is as eye-catching as the music is ear-catching, and will make the physical editions even more attractive to hold.