Band Line Up
JM. Arrea – Drums
A. Garita – Bass/Vocals
F. Tencio – Guitars/Vocals
F. Gutierrez- Guitars/Vocals
01. Ghost Universe
02. Exercises In Tantric Sorcery
03. Myriad Of Grotesquerie
Costa Rican death metallers, Astriferous were formed in 2018. They share members with the similarly brutal Bloodsoaked Necrovoid and initially made their impact with the Raise High the Scepter of Indulgence recordings.
That has been followed by what we have here; a 2020 mini-album that takes just four songs and 21 minutes to make it’s point. This is no frills, honest, death metal. Described by the band as “pure and proud,” they emphasise the “churning, caustic and crushing” nature of the music. With these three words, they have pretty much written their own review, because churning, caustic and indeed crushing is a good summary of the music contained herein.
After the obligatory, atmospheric intro, Ghost Universe makes its entrance and immediately adopts a sound as dank and foreboding as the subterranean cave depicted on the cover art. The opening song showcases a band who have adopted a deliciously murky production style to good effect. Vocals growl and sneer, pushed around by the shifting tempos. Blasts give way to slower doom passages before cymbal chokes usher in another machine-gunned mosh.
Guitars are shrouded in a detuned fog. They are felt rather than heard, churning like rats in the darkness. There are no solos here. No flourishes of melody. This is pure riff. 100%.
Exercise in Tantric Sorcery takes more of an idiosyncratic lurch. Coming across like the audio equivalent of a slasher/killer advancing on their terrified prey. Church bells toll, in-keeping with the foreboding atmosphere until the inevitable attack frenzy kicks in by way of accelerated blast beats and a ferocious vocal performance.
At this halfway point, the template is set. Myriad of Grotesquerie continues the theme with little variety on what has gone before. Rapid-fire passages are alternated with slower sections to gain traction. Vocals are layered to formidable effect while those guitars keep gouging away. Attack, attack, attack!
By the time the fourth track – Necrohallucination – arrives, it is clear Astriferous were never going to offer us any surprises. The final mosh is one last depraved gallop through a murky landscape. It’s arguably the heaviest song on the album due to its slower, weightier delivery but it’s not without one last blast before its ultimate, doomed fade out.
Overall, The Lower Levels Of Sentience will stand or fall on how you feel about simple, heads down death metal. Astriferous have distilled the genre down to its most basic, brutal form, which works well if you are looking for something you can just turn up and headbang to, but there is little depth here. You won’t find melodic passages or much in the way of memorable songwriting, but this IS a confident, albeit brief, release that plays to its strengths very well.
Volume is recommended.