It has become all too apparent that I do not learn from my mistakes. People warned me since childhood never to trust a snake, and yet Python will mark the second time I picked promo based solely on my love for those slithery danger noodles. I’ve learned my lesson this time for sure, though. Never in my life have I encountered a shit-tastrophe as rank as Astrological Warfare, the band’s ill-conceived sophomore record.
Much like my first serpentine misadventure, Python betrayed me in more ways than I can count. Blasphemously classifying themselves as “heavy metal,” the Italian-American New Yorker duo—who shall remain nameless—failed to uphold even the most substratal principles of metal: (1) provide riffs and/or themes that not only create momentum, but which also showcase songwriting and instrumental ability, (2) exhibit some semblance of excitement and fun in the service of audience engagement, and (3) capture a basic identity that defines what kind of metal they play in the first place. Having fumbled these rudimentary standards, there isn’t much else with which the doublet can attract an audience.
In fact, this band makes every effort to distress whoever dares sample their wares, as the record imparts a decidedly seedy vibe. I must concede that the atmosphere surrounding Astrological Warfare is effective, fondling the spider-silk-thin line between unsettling listeners and violating them (see “No Coming to the Light” or “Burning the Shrines of Christ” if you can stomach either). I also should point out that the bass and drums sound competently performed, although the material is so simplistic that said performances don’t qualify as evidence of notable skill.
Everything else about Astrological Warfare is intolerable. What passes for riffs on “Night Takes All,” “This Flame Burns Forever,” and the other five tracks that are “proper songs” barely move the needle past “cringe” as they repeat ad nauseam. Vocals are off-key more often than not, splitting their time between half-hearted singing, spoken-word autofellatio and wailing that ruptures eardrums as quickly as it cracks the listener’s resolve. An inconsistent production only exaggerates the negative qualities of the music further. It’s almost as if Python (or whoever else) recorded pieces of the album decades apart and with various sets of equipment. For example, the guitars sound like actual shit hitting an actual fan on “Enemies Bring Honor,” but immediately afterwards impart a run-of-the-mill stoner doom tone until the closing track, where they adopt the same sonic quality as on the opener. The result is a mind-numbingly dull yet utterly vexing shit-brick of an album, provided you ignore the five atmospheric tracks, half of which feature—wait for it—monologues.
You read that right. Monologues. Spoken-word (often whispered) swaths of vapid rants containing such nuggets as, “You are dead to me forever. And now you are dead to me forever. And now you are dead to me forever. Dead forever. Dead to me forever. And now you are dead for me forever.”1 Most of these ambient instrumentals/weak-ass tirades are over seven minutes long, all of them worthless expanses of thick noise, droning feedback and samples sourced from what sound like 1940s radio broadcasts. As a direct result, what is only seventy minutes feels like two hours of the eye-rolling-est excuse for music to ever disgrace my earballs.
Looking back on all of the terrible records covered here at AMG, I feel comfortable declaring this album as one of the worst. While not as unbearable to hear as Tetragrammacide‘s debut EP and arguably more palatable than the botched lobotomy that was The Year Zero Blueprint, Astrological Warfare is a travesty nonetheless. When all is said and done, Python doesn’t offer any reason to give a shit about anything they release—past, present or future.