Released: 2014, Sixsixsix Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Highly gifted musical people often speak of hearing music in their heads constantly, and their ongoing quest to get that music out into the world sounding just as they hear it. This is clearly the case with one Mr. A. Mikonmäki, stalwart member of black metal bands such as Taatsi and vinoristi. Mikonmäki has recently added another string to his bow in the form of neoclassical black metal act Astrum Malum. Based in Finland, Astrum Malum's music is almost entirely composed by Mikonmäki, who is credited with music, vocals and lyrics in the band's bio. Completed by Mikonmäki's brother (lyricist) and A. Lewandowski (Latin speeches), they describe themselves as 'neoclassical, industrial, sludge black metal', while their name means 'evil star' in Latin – an intriguing introduction if ever there was one.
The group only formed in October 2014 and have already released this debut EP, hinting at that aforementioned quest to get that music out there. Whilst they are, at base level, black metal, they are certainly not part of the melodic subgenre – more Behemoth than Dimmu Borgir, if you will.
So, what does neoclassical black metal that is mainly computer generated sound like? The EP is comprised of three songs entitled Part I, Part II and Part III – essentially three segments of the same song. Part I opens with a grand and moody intro, with black metal style vocals and spoken Latin dotted throughout, giving the track a wickedly atmospheric sound. Part II continues on, with church bells adding (ironically) a rather diabolical touch. There is also some deep, grarly guitar work juxtaposed with a darkly beautiful choral outro.
Part III begins with a bleakly defiant roar and yet more atmopsherics including touches of electronica. After a deceptively mild yet chilling bridge, the track fades out ominously to a 'Wish You Were Here' style wind effect.
This is decidedly NOT music to headbang or mosh to, it has to be said. It is, rather, darkly atmospheric and grimly elegant – the type of music that could (and should!) soundtrack a horror movie, or a grand, dark magick ritual. If that sounds like just your thing then Astrum Malum comes highly recommended. And with a full length album due for release in 2015, this is an exciting time to be a fan of this type of black metal. In the meantime, light some candles and enjoy this mere taster of the richly dark mind of A. Mikonmäki and Astrum Malum.
Review by Melanie Brehaut