Review by Jack on July 22, 2003.
It has been a long time coming, but it sure has been worth the wait. 5 long years have Astriaal been plowing away in the black metal industry in the wee Australian continent. 2 MCDs and extensive touring and festival work, (including support for Opeth, Mayhem and Destruction) and finally the hour has arrived. Astriaal releases "Renanscent Misanthropy" upon an unsuspecting world – with no possible perception as to how the record may infect their daily lives...
Straight up, the first thing I noticed from listening to Astriaal's debut is how well they have fostered a sound that is completely their own. Sure, most bands will release a record within 2-3 years of their inception – perhaps 4 years, but rarely will it take them half a decade or longer. And sure, those records may be pretty decent, but I daresay a vast majority of those records will stink greatly of influences that can be traced back to outfits who have done the same thing before them, and if you dig a bit further back I am sure you can find other bands doing the same thing again, and so on and so forth. What I am trying to say is that Astriaal have bided their time well and put out a record that they can truly be considered Astriaal. Waiting those 5 years has paid handsome dividends.
All too commonly (circa 2002-2003) we are greeted with black metal records that are either wildly symphonic (a trend which is dying out) or trying to rekindle the spirit of Darkthrone and Burzum. While I have some love for those bands, I don't really want to be revisited with shoddy production and a vibe, which let's face it died in the early 90s. Thankfully, Astriaal with "Renanscent Misanthropy" have put out a black metal record that is just what the doctor ordered; a righteous dose of extremity and intensity that most death metal bands wish they could master, let alone the hundreds of black metal clones out there.
"Renanscent Misanthropy" is a monstrosity in heaviness and a lesson in wickedness and aggression in the black metal field. Combining this out-and-out brutality with a production to match it (mastered at one of Sony's premier mastering facilities) and you are greeted with a record that completely smacks the shit out of 95% of its contemporaries. It's pretty simple math really. To complement the ultra abrasiveness of Astriaal's infective black metal is the sparse usage of evocative acoustic interludes, which simply break up the material beautifully, not dampening the mood at all, but merely providing some breathing room so the music doesn't batter you into a bloody mess.
Bottom Line: I truly believe this is one of the finest black metal records to come out of the turn of the new millennium. I simply can't think of another black record to compete with the intensity and belligerence displayed on "Renanscent Misanthropy."
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.9 out of 10