Astaarth - _Gloria Burgundia_
(Blood Fire Death, 2007)
by: Quentin Kalis (8 out of 10)
This new addition to the pagan metal genre consists of Lord Goudebaud on instruments whilst the screaming is provided by the equally grandly named, if over-ambitious, Lord L Moloch, located in Burgundy, France. Just don't refer to them as a French band -- as they proudly proclaim in opener "Our Beloved Country": "We are not French / Nor another nationality / We are Burgundians above all".

Although the nationalist leanings and abundance of folk would have them placed squarely under the aegis of pagan metal, the term is a bit of misnomer for this duo. _Gloria Burgundia_ is better regarded as an unholy ménage à trois between the key-drenched black metal popular back in 1997, perky folk metal and NSBM odes to pagan war and glory.

A rich variety of instruments are played: apart from traditional rock instruments, and the by now compulsory folk metal trio of flute, violin and mouth harp, tambourine, double bass, hurdy gurdy, spoons(!), accordion, bagpipes, banjo, epinette and Irish pipes are all used. Phew! Quite an extensive litany, yet Astaarth do not take full advantage of their arsenal at hand, relying too much on swathes of synth played over blastbeats. The album is also a tad messy as it lurches between bombast and furious blasting, but it nonetheless possesses a certain endearing (if slightly inexplicable) charm, and has been listened to constantly ever since it landed in my post-box.

I'd definitely love to hear this band record a second album, which I am sure will be a bit more focused and hopefully will feature less use of a synth -- but this will do for now!

Contact: http://www.bloodfiredeath.com

(article published 24/7/2007)


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