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Astarte was an all female black metal band from Elefsina, Greece, formed in 1995 by Tristessa (bass, guitars, keyboards), Kinthia (vocals/guitars/keyboards), Nemesis(guitars, keyboards). The band started under the name Lloth. They always used a session drummer throughout their career.

With their initial lineup Astarte released three albums, Doomed Dark Years (1998), Rise From Within (2000) and Quod Superius Sicut Inferius (2002). After this the band went through some major lineup changes, with Tristessa remaining the only original member of the band. In addition to the bass guitar she took over Kinthia's role as the band's vocalist and Hybris and Katharsis joined the band as guitarist and keyboardist respectively. The band released one album, 2004's Sirens with this lineup.

In 2007 Astarte released their fifth album, Demonized. For this album the Astarte lineup was somewhat unusual. Katharsis was replaced by Derketa for the keyboards and Tristessa only provided vocals with all guitars, bass
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ASTARTE Doomed Dark Years album cover 4.39 | 5 ratings
Doomed Dark Years
Black Metal 1998
ASTARTE Rise From Within album cover 3.93 | 5 ratings
Rise From Within
Black Metal 2000
ASTARTE Quod Superius Sicut Inferius album cover 4.10 | 6 ratings
Quod Superius Sicut Inferius
Melodic Black Metal 2002
ASTARTE Sirens album cover 4.43 | 4 ratings
Melodic Black Metal 2004
ASTARTE Demonized album cover 4.71 | 5 ratings
Black Metal 2007

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.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Ring (of Sorrow)
Melodic Black Metal 2007

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ASTARTE Quod Superius Sicut Inferius

Album · 2002 · Melodic Black Metal
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This is the last hurrah from the original Astarte trio of Kinthia, Tristessa and Nemesis; Tristessa would keep the band going after this for a couple of albums before succumbing to leukemia complications. Whereas those later releases had Tristessa working with a clutch of allies, the early Astarte releases stood out from the black metal pack by having a woman-dominated lineup, which was uncommon in metal in general and just about unheard-of in black metal.

Not content with kicking down gender barriers in black metal, on Quod Superius they also kick down musical barriers, with a melodic black metal sound which deftly works in a few symphonic elements here and there, with pieces like the instrumental Sickness showcasing the band's technical capabilities whilst still remaining emotionally engaging and atmospheric. Black metal bands who shift from a raw style (as Astarte had on their earliest albums) into a more clean style of production are taking a bit of a risk, because that's when their true instrumental capabilities become apparent, but in this case Astarte are unveiled as a competent trio; the album might not be enormously special in terms of its content, but there's certainly potential here and I sort of wish they'd been able to explore this direction further together. It's something of a shame that Kinthia and Nemesis seem to have dropped out of the scene after this, and we can only hope to hear more from them in the future.

ASTARTE Demonized

Album · 2007 · Black Metal
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Astarte's fifth and final album Demonized from 2007 is probably the most odd one out that the band ever released. The music on the release was recorded mostly by guest musicians Lycon and Ice with only vocals and keyboards provided by the actual members of Astarte. At least that's how things are credited in the liner notes. I'm really unsure why they would release an album like that but nevertheless Demonized ultimately ended up Astarte's swansong since leader Tristessa died in 2014 before the long planned follow-up Blackdemonium could be completed. As had been the trend with Astarte starting with Quod Superius Sicut Inferius Demonized features some guest vocalists, this time including Angela Gossow, Attila Csihar and Henri Sattler.

Musically this one is a bit different to everything that Astarte did before in that it's quite heavily death metal orientated and also the band's most intense album, which is the main reason why I consider it the odd one out. Rather than being the black sheep of their discography though this is actually probably my second favourite Astarte release after Quod Superius Sicut Inferius. Much like with Sirens I think the vocals by Tristessa may be a bit of an acquired taste but they suit the music I think and stand out more than Kinthia's did on the earlier work. The individual songs stand out more than they did on Sirens which I found to have some repetitive melodies. Especially ones like Mutter Astarte and Lycon are easy highlights. It's sad that we will not get to hear more music from Astarte but at least this final offering was them ending on a high note. In my opinion they are one of the most underappreciated black metal acts to have existed and over the course of five albums covered three distinct moods of the genre; raw, melodic and finally intense. R.I.P. Tristessa.



Album · 2004 · Melodic Black Metal
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Astarte's fourth album Sirens marks significant line-up changes within the group as after Quod Superius Sicut Inferius two of the three core musicians had parted ways with band leader Tristessa. On Sirens Tristessa takes over lead vocal duties while Hybris joins on guitars and Katharsis on keyboards. The album features guest appearances from both Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) and Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ).

Sirens moves even further in the melodic black metal direction started on Quod Superius Sicut Inferius, fully taking Astarte away from the rawer sound of their first two albums. Compared to former vocalist Kinthia Tristessa's voice is a bit less of a typical black metal rasp and it's easily to follow her lyrics. That said I think maybe her vocals here are more of an acquired taste. The music is generally more direct in nature and in some ways it isn't many steps away from turning into melodic death metal. As is usual for an Astarte release there's really good use of both keyboards and acoustic guitar, though there is an issue on this one that a few too many of the melodies used sound quite similar to each other, but it's decent enough Astarte album overall, more interesting than Rise From Within was but a step down following their career best that was Quod Superius Sicut Inferius.


ASTARTE Quod Superius Sicut Inferius

Album · 2002 · Melodic Black Metal
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The third Astarte album, Quod Superius Sicut Inferius marks both the end of one era of the band and the start of another. Firstly this was the last album to feature the original trio of musicians, Tristessa (bass, guitars), Kinthia (vocals, guitars) and Nemesis (guitars), as the latter two would part ways with Astarte by the time of the following album Sirens. It’s also the album that marks their shift towards a more melodic black metal sound. The album features some guest vocals by Spiros Antoniou of Septicflesh (or Septic Flesh, as they were then still known).

While there are still hints of the rawer sound of their first two albums, the opening song Reign Unfold tricking listeners into thinking not much has changed, and symphonic elements still crop up on and off throughout, the sound heard on Quod Superius Sicut Inferius is a bit better produced to allow for more distinct riffs and features a focus on melodic lead guitar playing. Kinthia even throws in some clean singing in a couple of songs. While this does make the individual songs stand out better instrumentally the more purist type black metal fan will probably prefer the more minimalistic Doomed Dark Years and Rise From Within. For me though Quod Superius Sicut Inferius represents the most accomplished album of Astarte, both up until that point and of their whole career (because of the death of Tristessa in 2014 Astarte only ever got to make five albums). While I do love Doomed Dark Years in particular out of the first two albums and it's a definite favourite of mine when I want rawer black metal than this, it’s clear to me that Astarte came on leaps and bounds as composers for Quod Superius Sicut Inferius.


ASTARTE Rise From Within

Album · 2000 · Black Metal
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A couple of years after their debut album the Greek female black metal band Astarte were ready to release their follow-up album Rise From Within. The biggest change in the band between the two albums was really just an aesthetic one, as they overhauled their image to drop the use of corpse paint. Though they may not have been using a typical black metal image anymore, the music on Rise From Within continues down the raw early black metal approach that some fans of the genre like to think of as 'true black metal'.

Indeed because musically things haven't changed all that much; Astarte continue with the same symphonic influenced black metal ideas present on Doomed Dark Years here, although there is less of a focus on the symphonic side of the album this time. The album is mostly made up of the title track suite which is a four part series, broken into two sections of the album. The first two subtitled pieces are placed immediately after the opening instrumental Furious Animosity, a song I don't find half as effective as Passage to Eternity from the previous album, while the third part and longest song (for some reason not subtitled like the others) is placed towards the end of the album, following by the slightly differently named closer Risen From Within, which is a non-metal melodic instrumental, ending the album much more effectively than it started.

While the music is praiseworthy overall for the same reasons that I enjoyed their debut so much, especially Rise From Within III, the boring intro song (which is basically just black metal without vocals) drags it down a bit and over the years I've become less inclined to spin Rise From Within than I am Doomed Dark Years out of the two earliest Astarte albums. It's still a very good black metal album despite its flaws, but I'd say it's the weakest that Astarte made in their career.


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666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
R.I.P. Tristessa.


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