Austere – Corrosion of Hearts Review

Atmospheric black metal has long been relegated to the woods and to the peaks – to the frigid north. Neglected has been another form of desolation. While the abyss has many names, whether nature offers its lush arms of shelter or the lament of desolation can be heard across the cruel cityscapes, we think cold and bleak. When fused with the depressive and suicidal musings of life’s cruel hand, we seek shelter in ColdWorld’s snow-laden shores, smell the whiff of Silencer’s smoking gun, or indulge in Lifelover’s melodramatic puppetry. We typically don’t think desert, desiccation, or aridity; Austere does.

New South Wales duo Austere is exactly as its name suggests, although members Desolate1 and Sorrow2 take a bit of a different approach. While debut Withering Illusions and Desolation played heavily into the stereotypes of the DSBM template, follow-up To Lay Like Old Ashes found them coming into their own: a DSBM/atmoblack fusion that conjures the desiccation of Australia’s Outback. Forsaking the frigidity of its genre mates for a heat and thirst just as unforgiving, it was a highlight to what was supposed to be a commanding career. At long last, after the act’s initial conclusion and fourteen years later, we are greeted with Corrosion of Hearts.

Austere walked the tightrope with its predecessors, its unique guitar tone and more forward mix benefiting the sound. Corrosion of Hearts adopts more of the traditionally cold style more reminiscent of Withering Illusions… with four tracks of sprawling desolation, each built upon a simple but effective structure of gentle plucking growing to denser and more climactic proportions. Opener “Sullen” is the best track and exemplary for DSBM in general, subtle chord progressions highlighting an underlying bleak melody as it moves with a dense and aptly corrosive guitar tone of the withering wind, movement to movement of October Falls-esque subtlety. Closer “Pale” also exemplifies a patience recalling ColdWorld’s latest trek to isolation. In true exemplification of its themes, Corrosion of Hearts balances corrosion and heart with grating guitars, a touch of ambiance, and plodding percussion, as Desolate and Sorrow both screech, howl, and sing as far as their bleeding throats will take them. The howled vocals of “A Ravenous Oblivion” and the Horn-esque singing of “Sullen” change up the wall of saddened sound.

The most disappointing aspect of Austere’s comeback is that it feels remarkably milquetoast compared to its predecessors. Gone is the uniquely warm and stark ambiance in favor of a cold fog of density that shrouds all its intricate movements in blandness. While “Sullen” works well acting against it and “Pale” weaponizes it as a metonymy of the depression, “A Ravenous Oblivion” and “The Poisoned Core” fall into bland territory. As seen with many a DSBM group and is the tale as old as time, there is little aggression or energy amid the sprawl, and these tracks are most guilty. While “The Poisoned Core” is a consistently underwhelming offering, “A Ravenous Oblivion” strikes a tragic balance between tedious and jarring, shifting gears awkwardly between passages and then dwelling on such tricks for too long. Bookended by solidness, what is more disappointing about Austere in its current incarnation is its sudden generic quality. Corrosion of Hearts does little to separate itself from the Nones and Forgotten Tombs of the world, especially disappointing compared to its last offering.

To Lay Like Old Ashes occupies a special place in my heart, as it was one of my gateway drugs to atmospheric black metal and DSBM, which makes Corrosion of Hearts especially disappointing after fourteen years of silence. Its title neatly reflects what is contained within Austere’s latest incarnation with a scathing guitar tone and tasteful melodies scattered throughout. However, while it offers solid if unspectacular atmoblack-tinted DSBM, the fact that it offers little more makes it far more disappointing. I hope that Austere returns to their previous work for reference, because the only desert within Corrosion of Hearts is the drought of ideas.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Lupus Lounge
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 28th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Mitchell Keepin of Dearthe, Funeral Mourning, and Temple Nightside
  2. Tim Yatras of Autumn’s Dawn and Germ.
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