Album: Astral Propagation
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Written by James Sweetlove
Let’s take a look at Adnate and their upcoming EP Astral Propagation, which will be independently released on February 26th.
The band hail from South East Queensland, Australia and formed back in 2009. The band play an atmospheric blend of sludge, doom, post-metal and ambient music with a few hints of pos-black metal in the mix. The band is Albert Long (guitar and synth), Blaise Clement (bass and vocals) and Akiva Ljungström (drums). The release was produced by Akiva Ljungström at Gaslight Studio.
So before we begin I should mention that this one is a little bit personal for me, due to the fact that I’ve known Blaise for many years now and used to live in the town where the band formed. I actually remember going to their gigs back in the day, so it’s kind of cool that I get to have a look at their new music on our site. Having said that you can still trust that everything I say in this article is unbiased and accurate as I write reviews for people that I know on a regular basis.
The band have made the following statement regarding the EP:
“ADNATE attempt to summon and then organise structures in a free form composition style. Lyrically, Astral Propagation incorporates these themes with an air of bittersweet misanthropic venom that somehow holds a positive light for the chance of humanity. In the process of representing an honest account of the human experience, the music is cathartic, uncompromising, and crushing.”
Having listened to the EP in full more than once, I can confirm that what the band have stated above is an accurate description of what the album has to offer. I’ll mention from the start that this is a slow burn of a release, but that’s a bit of a given when you pay attention to the genres/styles that the band has incorporated into their music. It’s the slow and gradual development of the songs and the evolution of their atmosphere and energy over time that makes them so fantastic. The band have plenty of time to achieve this with every song on the album being between 10 and 21 minutes in length. Much like with many bands that sit in the post-metal/atmospheric sludge genre the album is a constant dichotomy between harshness and heaviness one side and a light, atmospheric and somewhat technical simplicity on the other. Technical simplicity may seem like an odd phrase, but if you are a post metal fan I think you’ll understand what I mean by that statement.
We can look at the first track on the EP Voidcaller as a perfect example of this. The track starts out as a blend between ambient and post-metal, taking its time to gradually develop atmosphere until suddenly we’re several minutes in and things have shifted to be downright heavy and aggressive, taking on the form of a blend between doom and sludge. We not only get heavy instrumentals, but harsh vocals too, that are at times reminiscent of other noticeable bands in this genre such as Neurosis or ISIS. More often though another style is used which reminds me of Ihsahn (if you somehow aren’t familiar with his solo career, he was also the vocalist for Emperor) in that they’re somewhat harsh but understandable and have a very unique tone to them. This is short lived though as we return to the atmosphere focused post-metal blend shortly after, giving way to some fantastic instrumentation. Then only around the last 2 minutes or so of the album things get heavy again to close things out and give us more of those fantastic vocals.
Track 2 Ethereal (Visions//Manifest) is a monster of a song, coming in at over 20 minutes in total length. The band put every minute of this time to good use, crafting an immersive and engaging soundscape that can honestly be described as a thing of beauty. The focus on atmosphere is more apparent here than on the opener and the band lean fully into this side of their music. If you’re a post-metal fan you’re going to absolutely love this because the band have obviously been listening enough of it to know how to perfectly execute its signature sound and style. If you’re more of a sludge fan then don’t despair because you haven’t been forgotten, the band have worked segments of harshness and heaviness into this beast of a track that you’re also going to love. Those fantastic sludge vocals are back and there are plenty more of them on this particular track. Much like before there’s a constant ebb and flow between harshness/heaviness and lightness/atmosphere which keeps things fresh and interesting but also maintains balance on the album.
Track 3 Symbiotic closes out the EP with another almost 16 minutes of music. We get over 7 minutes at the start of the track dedicated to impressive instrumental work that sits more on the lighter side of things. Without being heavy the music still possesses a sort of dark and menacing tone, while simultaneously being beautiful and soothing in nature. Then around the 8-minute mark we get a more technical sludge blend entering the fray, which actually possesses some almost djent-like elements. After the 9-minute mark those vocals kick in again, taking us further down the rabbit hole of harshness. We also get some great reverb/echo laden, faded clean vocals on this track which add a lot of effect to the music. To accompany this segment, we get some fantastic psych tinged doom instrumentals, which are a nice addition to the album. We then have the album closed out on a heavy note with some more of those harsh vocals.
Overall, this is a fantastic EP that ticks all of my boxes for this type of music. The guitar work is stellar and extremely varied, ranging from downtuned, reverb laden segments through to more technical, crisper parts and then plenty of simpler, more soothing, atmospheric elements. The bass work on the album is also phenomenal, coming through clearly in the mix and having a thickness/richness to its overall sound. Drum wise I am actually impressed by how impactful it is even in the simpler, more basic parts of the album. I always find it impressive when minimalistic drums are able to be so impactful. It goes to show that it’s not all about how fast and heavy you can play, which seems to be a very common misconception for many within the metal community. As stated, the vocals are fantastic, the blend between the gruffer sludgier vocal style and the more commonly used Ihsahnesque vocals makes for a great listen. The most important and impressive element on the release though would have to be the songwriting, which is truly impressive.
SO, if my several paragraphs of raving and rambling haven’t convinced you to order the album, you’ll just have to wait for a song to drop so that you can hear for yourself just how killer the EP is. I say that because unfortunately for you all none of the tracks from the album have been released yet but there is a pre-order up, so get yours in today to hear the full album on the day of release: