Label: GS Productions
Release date: 07 December 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
“We might have always been doomed to extinct in our own cradle”
Space, our galaxy and the vast universe beyond, these things have always fascinated the human species. In the past, many astral entities have been used to explain gods or other aspects of faith. As time progressed and faiths role got smaller and smaller, space has been increasingly explored in a more scientific manner. We humans now know a lot about the universe. This can surely be a very interesting and rewarding journey, yet, space can also be something dark and terrifying… Realizing how menial and small we humans are when looking at the sheer size of the infinite universe, space can be something to be feared, something that reminds us of our own mortality, something to catalyse existential dread. Looking at it through this rather depressing lens, Black Metal has explored the topic on multiple occasions. Popular projects of “Cosmic / Space Black Metal” are DARKSPACE and MESARTHIM, which have established a particular sound for the genre, often utilizing spacey, distant production quality and heavy synth use. From this scene, a new and promising project emerged this year: Polish one-man project THANATONAUT released its first track in the form of “Mankind Will Never Leave the Solar System” in August of 2019. Now it is followed up by the projects first full-length album “Interstellar”, out on December 7th via GS Productions.
“Very Improbable” is the albums 6-minute spoken word intro. It contains the “Thanatonaut Manifesto”, which describes the philosophy and concept of the band as well as this album. If you’re interested, listen to the opening track or read it in full on the albums Bandcamp-page. After an explanation of the universe’s inception, the spoken word is enhanced with a spacey synth-soundscape, which is an excellent addition for the track’s intensity. The track then goes on with a depressingly realist view on the chances of our survival as a race going into the future, raising the question if we are alone in the universe and even if not, questioning our capability to ever leave our solar system behind and going interstellar. The track ends with the chilling statement that if we are not able to travel faster than the speed of light, according to the Manifesto, “the possibility of interstellar space colonization and the survival of our kind is very improbable”. This opening passage terrifically sets the mood of the record going forward.
“299,792,458 m/s” is the second track of the album, an instrumental track, which establishes the sound of the records instrumentation. The title signifies the fastest speed at which information can travel through space, a speed which we aren’t even close to travelling ourselves. The main elements of the track are blast-beats and heavy synth-usage. The drums often add some new and interesting elements as the track moves forward, during which persistent blast-beats continue underneath. The guitars are buried deep beneath the drums and synthesizer, yet they still do provide a great element of texture to the overall sound. The tracks keys get terrifyingly intense, before it abruptly ends, leading us directly into track three.
“Mass of the Solar System” has a powerful start and introduces the vocals. At first, they are more shouted cleans than actual screams, which I believe is deliberate, as you can clearly understand what is sung. Going forward, the vocals intensify, and the blast-beats get more mechanical in sound while also utilizing pauses for intensity. After 2 ½ minutes, the real screams come in, sounding distant and tortured. A later part almost sounds like a chorus, something not very common within Black Metal, as the shouting from before is developed further. This, I assume, was done for better understanding. It conveys the concept and message of the track well. The lyrics focus on the necessity to farm resources of other planets to build “The Dyson Sphere”, a megalithic structure which harvests the energy of the sun. We need this energy, as our only chance for salvation is to leave our cradle, this solar system, behind!
On “Approaching the Great Filter”, the mix of blast-beats, more technical drum elements on top, heavy use of synth and buried, spacey guitar works extremely well. The synthesizer communicates a feeling reminiscent of a great journey, sounding almost adventurous at points, which is in stark contrast to rather bleak outlook of the lyrics on here: “Children of their sun, forever bound to one”, we humans will never achieve a technology advanced enough to leave our own solar system behind. In the end, all our struggles will be in vain. The sound grows increasingly melancholic towards the tracks end, its last minute consisting of a pure synth outro, closing the song with tragic and cinematic quality.
“Interstellar” is closed off with a monolithic track, spanning over 21 minutes of runtime, “Spores”. An uncanny synth-opening marks its beginning, setting the atmosphere of the track really well before the full instrumentation again commences. A blast-beat onslaught, ominous, looming synth and the buried guitar, like a lurking dread below, make for an impressive start to this album-closer. Closely after the 6-minute mark, the synth intensifies, conveying feelings of a tragic and truly desperate struggle. Around this point more metallic sounding drumming sets in, bringing in a fresh element and setting a great example of how to keep interest awake during a lengthy track like this. At the 9-minute mark the most tortured screams begin, extremely intense, sounding like a frantic fight to survive. The drums also get more powerful at this point. After 12 minutes of the track, there is another spoken word section, told from the perspective of the lone survivor of spaceship “Thanatonaut – Interstellar 19 C”. He reports on the forlorn state of the ship and non-existent chance of survival, ending his transmission with the bone-chilling statement “We are all humans, and we will all be dust”. Towards the end, the track slows down, including a very beautiful synth-composition, before the track fades out and ends the journey of “Interstellar”.
I can safely say that THANATONAUT is a very promising project that I will follow with great interest going into the future. Not only is the music on “Interstellar” very solid on its own, but the concept behind the band was cohesively woven into the tracks, leading to an end-product that is undoubtedly worth your time, especially when you are a fan of the “Cosmic” subgenre of Black Metal already. The “Thanatonaut Manifesto” is an interesting read and a very competently worked out concept, which I’d really love to see explored further on future releases. This, the debut of Eija Risens project THANATONAUT, is definitely recommended! 9/10 the trve Medvson
I also had the pleasure to interview Eija Risen, the creator of THANATONAUT. Check it out right here!
9/10 Epic Storm
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