TIAMAT — The Astral Sleep (review)

TIAMAT — The Astral Sleep album cover Album · 1991 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
"The Astral Sleep" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Swedish death/doom/goth metal act Tiamat. The album was released through Century Media Records in September 1991. Tiamat are one of the seminal Swedish death meal acts. They released their old school death metal styled debut album "Sumerian Cry" in 1990, but already on "The Astral Sleep" they began their journey towards a more goth/doom death metal oriented sound. The tracks and the playing are relatively simple and and it´s safe to say that the band focus on atmosphere far more than they focus on technically intriguing playing. The musicianship is decent and the music is as such well performed.

The music is predominantly mid-paced, but there are both doomy parts and a few faster paced parts featured on the album too. While "The Astral Sleep" are often given a death metal label, it´s actually not a very brutal sounding album and you´ll hear influences from other music styles like goth, doom, and thrash metal. The vocals are semi-growling and intelligible. Celtic Frost is a pretty valid reference because of the combination of various stylistic elements. In addition to heavy doomy riffing, and thrash oriented death metal riffing, the music also features acoustic sections and atmospheric keyboards. The latter two elements work as features that spice up the band´s sound and Tiamat are successful in doing that (examples are tracks like "Mountain of Doom" and "On Golden Wings", which both benefit from that). And it´s needed too, because the bass, drums, and guitar basis of the music, aren´t that interesting. The same can be said about the vocals, which lack power and conviction.

The material generally aren´t that interesting, and when you combine that with the fact that the sound production lacks in the power department (the drums sound disjointed from the rest of the instruments), "The Astral Sleep" does sound a bit flat and the mediocre/standard label wouldn´t be all wrong as a description of the recording quality and the musicianship, or on how interesting the material generally are.

The album isn´t bad as such, but my attention begins to wander after a couple of tracks, because of the lack of power and energy in the music. The atmosphere that the band create isn´t that compelling either, except for the most atmospheric sections, which generally work pretty well. And atmosphere is something that they would excel in just a few years down the line. On "The Astral Sleep" you can hear traces of that, but when the core sound of the album is a tame version of doom/death/goth metal I can´t give more than a 3 star (60%) rating.
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