Review Summary: An unpredictable, atmospheric trip.
Doesn’t matter what you think, 2009 was a pretty great year for metal. It saw the return of the powerful old school death metal scene, it saw some great bands such as Mastodon and Panopticon make another solid addition to their catalogue and quite a few promising new bands made their appearance.
This is where Austlune comes in. Hailing from Detroit and currently unsigned, Austlune is essentially one person, someone we have come to know as FireAboveIceBelow (Danny Heater). His 6 track demo is an interesting take on progressive blackened death metal that manages to be atmospheric and eclectic all at once.
The album jumps right into your ears with what sounds like some loud pick scraping played over some slow leads. The production is thick and envelops you within seconds. The song then takes a complete turn-around as the drums come in and the guitars switch over to some heavy chords but while maintaining that thick atmospheric sound. The album continues on like this, keeping you trapped in atmosphere while jumbling you around god knows where but all the while, maintaining its cohesiveness and structure. You journey through loud chords that quickly change tempo and become melodic leads which transform themselves into a folky strummed interlude and the whole thing feels like a bit of a mind*** the first time around and might honestly leave some feeling a little lost. But, being only 20 minutes long, the demo is easy to return to and it is upon these returns that one begins noticing hidden pieces in the music and gaining a better understanding of the ride they’ve been on. Transitions that had seemed like a blur in the production start to make sense and songs take on a new dimension when one discovers a hidden synth part or a buried guitar lead.
The demo is obviously not without its faults. The guitar production does make some transitions sound a little blurred (about a third into Dead Flags for example). The basic idea is always distinguishable but the notes seem jumbled and would benefit from something slightly clearer. Also the drums (only instrument that wasn’t handled by Mr. Heater) sound a lot simpler than the rest of the instruments, almost as if the drummer was too focused on keeping time with everything to explore a little.
But all in all, Austlune delivers a surprisingly strong first demo that definitely has my hopes up for the upcoming album (which sources say should be this summer). But then again, what else would one expect from an ex sputnik elitist?
The demo is up for free download on the band's blog: