Dying Emotions Domain
Ancient Nation Productions/Negative Existence (2011 reissue)
Ukraine has certainly been a surprising country for extreme metal recently, with excellent acts like Raventale releasing albums, helping to put their country on the international extreme metal map. Negative Existence recently reissued Astrofaes‘ Dying Emotions Domain, featuring a remastered version of the Ukrainian black metal band’s debut full length album.
A heavy atmosphere, courtesy of the keyboards of Saturious greets the listener as the album opens with The Black Woods Theory, complete with the presence of instruments like flutes, and this easily causes the listener to mistake the album to be a folk or ambient album, with the amount of focus the band has put in to shroud the music with a sense of the unknown, but all these impressions are immediately broken as the band breaks into their first proper track, Fiery Mysticism. What replaces the opening somewhat soothing intro track is cold and aggressive, Norwegian-inspired black metal, with the music being heavily driven by the relentless punishing of the drum kit by Khaoth, and the keyboards, though still present, now take a back seat. The lead guitar lines on the track that alternate from one side of the speaker to the other, while could be a good idea, sounded slightly awkward and this probably put me off during the first few listens to the album, but getting past that, the big sound of the guitars are definitely a nice touch to this reissue. Furthermore, towards the middle of the song, the lead guitar lines also help in creating a sense of unease in the listener, helping to define the experience of the listener.
Songs like At Nightfall also manage to encapsulate the element of the bleak emotions that the band is trying to bring out, with the subtle keyboards present at the background driving the melodies, that is topped by the desperate shrieks of vocalist Dalver. There are also influences from other sub-genres, such as on Path to Burning Space, where folk metal elements could be spotted in the opening riffs, before what sounds like a saxophone appears on the album, bringing a somewhat unconventional sound to what one is already used to in black metal, perhaps making this album one of a kind, and even more so when it was first released in 1998. Furthermore, tracks like Ad Infinitum (Dark II) see the usage of clean vocals, giving the track an epic/viking metal feel.
While I haven’t heard the original version of Dying Emotions Domain, it would be great to have just listened to the remastered version as it sufficiently brings across the point that Astrofaes is trying to make with their music. The production, though loud, does not become too saturated (unlike other loud albums like Metallica‘s Death Magnetic), and remains sufficiently raw and authentic, ensuring that the album remains an enjoyable one to listen to throughout.