Released: 2002, Self-released
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Uh…(!?), Finnish ´atmospheric Dark Metal(!)´ act Astray isn´t that unknown band for many who are constantly aware of what’s going on Black/Dark Metal circles. For me, they were… up till now.
The Astray, which contains only two musicians, Markku Paakkonen (all the instruments) and Vesa Moilanen (vocals) was formed in 1998 and the guys´ purpose was to create a band that could combine the 3 key elements into their music: sadness, hate, and depression. Having done two mini-CDs (a self-financed mini-CD titled “When I´m Cold Enough” in 1998 and “Alone”, released by Beyond Productions in 1999) , the band keep on improving and tightening their sound and in the unholy year of 2002 it was time for the guys again to enter the studio and record some promotional material mainly for labels. Nine songs were recorded at a small BRR studio and there of them were chosen for this advance 2002 promotional disc.
The opening song, “Welcome to the Cult” is in my opinion based on the ´hate´ element musically. Most of the time aggressive guitar riffs dominate the song ´til the middle of the song where more atmospheric and symphonic parts start winning more space in the song structure and making it more interesting sounding than what I originally expected from it as a whole. It´s no wonder if some of their symphonic parts in this particular tune bring the Norwegian sympho-masters Arcturus to mind since Astray definitely possess the same musical areas as well.
“Barbed Wire Paradise” as a song mostly gets its fuel from the ´depression´ element for sure. Again, those highly symphonic and atmospheric elements take the lead role and this is exactly the kind of stuff I´d like to hear more from them. Especially the keyboard parts are truly bombastic and beautiful. Vesa´s agonizing Black Metal shrieks add nicely some contrast to an overall depressive atmosphere the guys have managed to capture into this truly ´ice-cutting´ song. What a beautifully agonizingly amazing song indeed!!
The last song on this 3-song promo, “Bleeding Wire” is more like an average Black Metal song, reminding me of some later Dimmu Borgir, - some Thy Serpent - and some Arcturus material. It, however, doesn´t grow in me the way “Barbed…” did, but it still has its mind-sticking moments – the song varying musically from some dead emotions to some truly aggressive and attacking vibes constantly. I bet many of you will respect this constant variation in Astray´s blackish Dark Metal, so in order to get convinced by my words of praise about them, go listen to some of their MP3’s that are available at: http://www.astrayband.com
There should be enough prove in their site for all of you ´bout Astray´s rising potential and talent to be noticed wider in the universum metallum.