nAlbum Review: Astriferous - Pulsations From the Black Orb
Reviewed by Sam Jones
I can’t say I’ve listened to many bands from Costa Rica, so it comes to no surprise why I wanted to check out Astriferous, and their newest full length release: Pulsations From The Black Orb. Formed in 2018, Astriferous have been hard at work right out of the gate having released a number of Demos before unveiling their first EP come 2020, The Lower Levels Of Sentience. A year later the band released a Split alongside Bloodsoaked Necrovoid (a pretty wicked band name if I do say so myself), and only makes sense since the two bands appear to share members. But now, in the early months of 2023, Astriferous are at last poised to unleash their first full album of material. With a colourful maelstrom brandishing Astriferous’ identity, I was all the more excited to see where this would lead me.
I liked how the band slowly blend their instrumentation into the record’s opening. Astriferous may do the whole album introduction as a piece on its own as opposed to throwing us right into their mire, yet it works because it doesn’t feel self-congratulatory; throughout the introduction the band are weaning us slowly into their soundscape. As a result, when the first real tracks do hammer at your senses it isn’t a sudden or jarring experience. It also works in conjunction with what kind of tone Astriferous are willing to demonstrate herein; the artwork they sport suggests something cosmic or, at the very least, ethereal, and that’s precisely the vibe they give off during those initial minutes. Hints of thick bass lines and mounting guitar tone creep throughout before bursting into life as Astriferous unleash their full might upon us.
Speaking of which, if we thought the bass in those opening minutes was something to appreciate then we must prepare for the onslaught of tone Pulsations From The Black Orb effortlessly oozes. The bass feels massively amplified within the mix not only through the bass guitar but via the bass drums too. While the riffs harness a more ripping quality, likely decided upon to give them a more coherent plane by which we can make them out against the bass, the overall soundscape this record boasts feels massive as it hurtles its body at us with repeated, clenched fists to the face. I can, however, give credit to the band for not rendering this a sheer bass battle; had the guitar work been on the same level as the bass it could have resulted in a record that felt boisterous and devastating for superficial reasons. Here, the band manage to acquire a healthy balance between bass and riff onslaught.
It doesn’t take long for one to realise that while the band sports this monstrous tone, and a soundscape that totally encompasses your person, the album is actually quite far from being something we’d label as thoroughly refined. The album’s soundscape may be thick with musk, it’s impact deeply clenched, but you can feel the callous, tough exterior such a performance strikes us with. The dual performance of bass and riffs may have the scope we’re looking for, but the rougher nature it’s mix has rendered the performance with crafts a more rooted and approachable delivery than other acts might intend, whom have polished their own performances to no end. Yet, it’s that scathing guitar work that sells the album’s strength and ensures fans will want to come back for repeated listens since, in all likelihood, during the assault, they will have missed something.
With the tone and form of instrumentation provided herein, it only makes sense that the vocals are what they are. What more, the choice of delivery only suits the record all the more. Had the vocal performance consisted of a more gruff or bass-leaning delivery in timbre, it’s likely the the vocals would have been just as entertaining however they’d be far from the best choice for the songwriting offered. The bellowing and grand delivery this record possesses feels perfectly apt for the swirling, ethereal nightmare that Astriferous are consistently poised to dish out with every track. It becomes all the more realised during periods where the syllables are held for longer treats of time, furthering the band’s cosmic vibe, where the songwriting’s doomier tendencies are given space and time to breathe.
In conclusion, Astriferous’ debut full length release is a cacophonous and mighty record that will suck you into its vortex and proceed to keep you there before jettisoning you out the other side. I wouldn’t mind their next major release to be a little tighter in the mix, something that binds the band’s performance together just a touch more, yet with that said, Pulsations From The Black Orb does precisely what you’d expect it to do judging only from the opening few minutes alone. It’s soundscape is huge but it isn’t so domineering that you’ll feel you can’t breathe; throughout the record you’re going to be pummelled by bass and riffs and vocal bellowing, but you’ll never feel as if you’re on the verge of being submerged by it. Astriferous are certainly an interesting band and one I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of.