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Súl Ad Astral - Oasis (2018) - Review

Band: Súl Ad Astral
Album title: Oasis
Release date: 12 December 2018
Label: Flowing Downward

01. In Dreams, Reborn
02. Float
03. Pennies Down The Infinity Well
04. Last Regret
05. Inaction And Consequence
06. Hindsight
07. This Broken Ideal
08. Oasis

One of the biggest revealations of 2018 for me is the band Súl Ad Astral. This is the international duo divided between New Zealand and USA, and to say the truth I never heard of them before, even though that Oasis is already their third full-length, so the surprise is even bigger. Súl Ad Astral were formed in 2011 by multi-instrumentalist Stephen Fortune (ex-Abstract Survival), the project was soon completed by American vocalist and lyricist Michael Rumple (Desiderium, Flood District, Lorelei, Skyforest,...), who joined in 2012. The self-titled debut album was released in 2012, then a split with Isle Of Skye, The Observant Darkness - The Darkness Observant, followed in 2013 and a year later the sophomore album Afterglow. Now after four years of silence we are granted with a proper masterwork named Oasis, and this is really an oasis in this desert of so many uninspired blackened metal releases that we got bombarded with on a daily basis.

Súl Ad Astral is different, still it can be roughly labeled as blackgaze, but in reality it's way more than just that. The music of this act is simply transcedental, such a cohesive, lush and flowing blend of many forms of blackened and atmospheric metal. It's true that Alcest, Lantlôs or Woods Of Desolation might be their primal influences, but the two on Oasis offer their own kind of such a mature, enigmatic and technically perfect work of sonic art that it simply draws the listener into this world which is an assemblage of long, contemplative and emphatic passages on the thoughts and feelings around change and loss. Oasis is an adventure, it's as emotional as it's intense, it can be extreme in one moment and deeply sensitive in another.

Stephen and Michael guide the listener through eight tracks, some of them are proper epic creations, with such a sense for sonic harmony that it simply grabs the listener and it doesn't let go so easily. Elements of black metal are used as a basis, but post-rock, shoegaze, death/thrash metal, doom metal, heavy, progressive metal and yet more are so smoothly connected between each other that I don't remember when I heard an extreme part so lightly pouring into more emotional one, or a blackened shriek being at the same level as a clean voice. Shrieks, brutal and crystal-clean vocals, dilated, circular riffs, amazing leads, powerful drums, strong bass lines, atmospheric synths, captivating melodies and razor sharp obscure tremolo picked parts form such an amazing pathos from the very first notes of "In Dreams, Reborn" until the last seconds of "Oasis".

All of the tracks on this album are as well from the compositional point true masterpieces, Súl Ad Astral have that much needed creative vein to make perfect dramatic building up in tension songs that are so very dynamic and technically perfective as much as they are smooth. But don't get me wrong, this is far from being some kind of a hippie-post-black-metal-hipster thing, Súl Ad Astral are not some kind of flowery guys, just listen for example to the amazing thumping lines of "Pennies Down The Infinity Well" or to the magic named "Last Regret", and I mean it "just for example" because each track offers something new, deeply immersive and otherworldly. Súl Ad Astral are a true revelation in the field of everything blackened in metal music.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9,5/10