Astriferous – Pulsations from the Black Orb Review

NASA telescopes detected something misshapen and malevolent hurtling in this direction; don’t panic, but our best calculations indicate that it’s on a collision course with your ear holes. The entity hails from Astriferous, a hitherto obscure corner of the galaxy. Rumors abound that the object, which engineers are calling Pulsations from the Black Orb, is a death metal album. Remain calm! I’m just going to put my headphones on to see if I can determine this record’s intentions. Oh God no SJKHS:LKSJN….

The above are the heroic final words of the scientist tasked with deciphering Pulsations from the Black Orb. The first full-length from Astriferous has foul designs on your soul and your sanity alike. It carries them out over the course of eight tracks that fuse the off-kilter riffing of Finnish death metal with thrash and doom influences. Should you submit willingly to the interstellar assault, or is it best to make a final stand and resist these young Costa Ricans at any cost?

Balls and brains abound here–Pulsations from the Black Orb emanates a rare and impressive hybrid of brutality and intelligence. These eight tracks are, at their core, old school but technically adept death metal in the vein of Demilich or Tomb Mold. Astriferous channels those influences with skill and brio, but it’s the extra ingredients that make this platter stand out. The compositions shift gears between fast-paced death with thrash inflections, oddball mid-paced sections that directly emulate their Finnish forebears, and stomping doom passages that make for a dynamic and effective contrast. The clever songwriting gets support from an organic production job that gives each musician space to work within a coherent but filthy whole. It all adds up to a stellar contribution to what is already shaping up to be a terrific year for metal. With Pulsations from the Black Orb, Astriferous drops a debut that’s eminently worthy of your time and attention, a bit o’brilliant brutality that feels like it might be the start of something big.

Don’t get twisted by all this talk of intelligence. Pulsations from the Black Orb hates you, and wants to commit felonies upon your auditory canals. Once the inessential instrumental “Intro (The Black Orb)” is out of the way, “Blinding the Seven Eyes of God” and “Teleport Haze” make for a ferocious one-two punch. The blistering death metal that opens “Blinding the Seven Eyes of God” (Goatwhore may be able to offer some technique tips to help get that job done) transmutes into pummeling doom. The style-bending is effortless enough to look like alchemy, and that trend continues with the Demilich-descended riffing of ‘Teleport Haze.” The lead guitar lines of Federico Gutiérrez and Felipe Tencio descend from the atmosphere and embed their strange shapes into these songs before dissipating. This may be a short album, but it’s crammed with highlights. “Lunomancy” recalls the punishing vibes of last year’s excellent Maul offering, and the song feels like an early lock for this year’s edition of the Heavy Moves Heavy Workout Playlist. Closer “Symmetries That Should Not Be” conjures an epic journey through all of the styles at Astriferous’s command before ending in an unholy singalong between Gutiérrez and Tencio.

A couple of flaws nip at this otherwise remarkable slab of death. The album comes in under thirty-five minutes, but it has a long instrumental intro and a mid-platter interlude. Neither feels necessary for anything other than padding out the run time. Middling track “Ominous and Malevolent” follows the interlude, which creates a soft patch in the middle of Pulsations from the Black Orb. The growled vocals, which tend to be tamped down in the mix and slathered with reverb, aren’t bad, but neither do they add much.

None of those complaints should stop you from getting ears on Pulsations from the Black Orb as soon as you can. Astriferous may have a few things to learn about sequencing, and small refinements in their sound will only make them more exciting going forward. But the band could already teach a master class in beating the ever-loving shit out of you. They do it with abundant style and songwriting flair, bursting onto the scene with a full-length debut that fulfills the promise of their demos, splits and EPs. This one feels destined for heavy rotation.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 296 kb/s mp3
Label: Me Saco Un Ojo Records | Pulverized Records
Releases Worldwide: March 10, 2023

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