Aiwass hath spoken exactly one hundred and fifteen years ago into the ear of Aleister Crowley who’d eventually believe himself Ankh-af-na-khonsu, a priest of Mentu god of war, in taking three days worth of dictation from the incorporeal spirit. In writing the ‘Liber Al vel Legis’, and fashioning the occult religious philosophy of Thelema out of thin air, mainstream history appropriately still views Crowley as a drug-addled conman rather than a vessel for any sort of deus ex machina. Shortly after conning himself into royal Cairo, Egypt vacation digs by pretending to be a European prince on his honeymoon it still stands that Crowley would sit and write a poignant set of slightly plagiarist aphorisms surrounding the redefinition of the will of man, personal freedoms, a detailed but suspect cosmology, ethics, and a very detailed set of rites that’d form the basis for Thelemic mysticism and magick. The most resonant and continual contribution, from my own perspective, from Crowley lay with his consideration of ethics and specifically Aiwass‘ direction on duty. Duty to the ‘self’, others, the human species, and all over beings involved applying the law of Thelema to all existence: Do what thou wilt. The caveat being that you must identify and actualize into an autonomous being, accept that you are a part of all human beings, and allow the same liberty for all. If you’ll excuse my awkward paraphrasing of the origins of Thelemic mysticism, the point soon becomes clear that freedom from religion and the elimination from -all- confines that limit the freedoms of others is the only path forward and this serves as some solid lyrical inspiration for San Jose, Costa Rica cosmic ‘occult’ death metal project Astriferous‘ debut demo tape ‘Raise High the Scepter of Indulgence’.
Formed officially in 2018 between members of Bloodsoaked Necrovoid, Corpse Garden and Despair the aim of Astriferous‘ thrall to classic Scandinavian and North American death metal is as immediate and soul-rotting as their respective other projects. The band cite a not-so odd spectrum of classic Finnish (Demigod, Convulse) and Swedish (Crematory, Seance) death metal as inspiration as much as they point towards the more discernible traits they share with the rotten blasphemy of early Autopsy and Immolation. Where they differentiate from this well-worn path comes with a focus on celestial atmospherics, the sci-fi horror that becomes increasingly prevalent within the greater underground death metal scene, and this links some of their ideas on ‘Raise High the Scepter of Indulgence’ to their work in death/doom act Bloodsoaked Necrovoid. That same rotten sledge brings with it a few doomed moments on this tape but, Astriferous are slightly more similar to Depravity or Crematory than they are Purtenance or Convulse in terms of pacing and this’ll please fans of similarly up-and-coming groups like: Fetid, Caustic Vomit, and Crematory Stench who’ll likewise often speed their filth-ridden caveman death up to rip through death/thrash worthy riffs here and there.
From the Finndeath inspired “Negative Hesychasm” to the demo-era Dawn-esque tremolo riffs and twisted Demigod-meets-Deicide rhythm of “Mind Bending Distortions” Astriferous sound tightly practiced and effective in their evocation of grimy old school death metal but, I found myself gravitating towards the other two tracks on this ‘live in studio’ recording; “Veil Not Your Vices In Virtuous Words” and “Mother of Abominations” came across a fair share more raw and intense, though less detailed, in their composition. Beyond the effective pace changes and rotten sound, I appreciate a when a tape like this flows together well and plays from start to finish without any cheap filler. Here’s hoping they do another run at some point as ‘Raise High the Scepter of Indulgence’ sold out almost immediately. Although they won’t have enough gimmickry inserted into this tape to really pull in a big crowd, these Costa Rican death metallers are on the right path with this abhorrent monstrosity of a first strike. Highly recommended. For preview I’d definitely start with “Mind Bending Distortions” and go from there.
Behold the demise. 3.75/5.0
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