Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celestia - Awakening of the Dormant Fiancée

Celestia - Awakening of the Dormant Fiancée
2000, Promo, Self-Released

For some bizarre reason, I've had a very hard time remembering the name of this tape. I can't explain it...I don't really know why - perhaps it's because it isn't the 'typical' black metal title, mentioning forests and darkness, etc. or it might just be the fact that it has five words in it and that's completely beyond my feeble intellect's ability to recall names of releases. Oh well. Well, as you can see, I was finally able to capture it here in text...

You should be forewarned that Celestia have taken it upon themselves to label their music as 'fast and ethereal black metal' (which actually goes a long way towards 'labeling' it, being, it's true, an apt set of adjectives if not too descriptive), which either means that they felt a need to point out how they are different than other bands playing in this genre, or they wanted to set a certain set of parameters for themselves - a plan, on paper, that they could look at and return to if they foundered when contemplating stylistic choices. Either way, as I was saying, it's a good label, as good as any other I suppose. Celestia, for the most part, play very fast the entire time, the drums reminding (in terms of sheer speed) of their nation-mates Antaeus or the hammerwork on the latest Judas Iscariot record - in other words, a constant blasting pulse behind the guitars which doesn't really try to call that much attention to itself, other than adding a few original fills into the song segments every now and again. The 'ethereal' part comes from this band's otherworldy guitar sound, it being a trebly, high-range, highly distorted whining series of occult tones. Now...because this tape features recordings taken from different releases and disconnected (I'm guessing here) recording sessions, there is a little variation in the guitar sound...but because the basic ideas behind this sound remain very similar throughout the tape, and across or through different songs, I know it was deliberate and not just the 'fault' or accident of the production.

It should also be mentioned that this band features, on vocals, Noctu, from the cult underground label Drakkar Productions. His voice happens to be another highlight of this band's eerie impact, as he sounds most of the time like he is screaming to save his own life (or to lose it), in a exceedingly harsh, atonal, blackened rasp...to tell you the truth he reminds me more than anyone else of Darby Crash, the seriously deranged frontman from the LA punk band The Germs...

This tape, 'Awakening of the Dormant Fiancée', features five tracks, two of which are from an earlier demo, two others neatly residing also on a couple of split EPs that Celestia did with other bands, and the last song being a composition especially made for this promo. You can see that in this case a promo tape was actually created to give...something of a adequate picture of a band's prior output and their stylistic focus over their career, and then also a song to show where they might be headed in the future. This is the one true way to construct promotional tools, I believe.

Now the guitarist from this band let me know that they are currently in the process of recording their newest demo, which should see the light of day very soon. Because of this I'm not going to spend much time on this promo release, other than to say that it is a very good example of where this band stands, and also a good release to pick up if you are interested in where they have come from. Over time, Celestia has really changed very little, other than becoming even darker, and, it seems, even more intent on making their sound atypical or idiosyncratic, spreading 'traditional' metal influences (a certain sort of melodic riffing that hearkens back to heavy metal, and solos) throughout the blasting black metal. Let me also say this: in comparing this band to Antaeus, above, I am not really doing them justice, because as you listen to this music again and again (especially through headphones, where you can pick up things you wouldn't necessarily be able to otherwise) it dawns on you that their entire musical thrust, their stylistic impetus, can only be described in terms of alluding to what they are ceaselessly reaching for, as music that seeks to innovate (or at least claim it is 'ethereal', otherworldly, spiritual - trascendent, really) must be described as a sort of bridge in between what has come before, the land they have left, and the realm they are journeying towards...only in this way can it be stylistically located, categorized, described. If that is true, then let me also say that I believe Celestia are trying very hard to leave their basic black metal roots behind them, and are surely attempting something new, something outside of the stale powers of abstraction and melodicism open, traditionally, to black metal musicians. There is very little of the stereotypical 'angry' or 'blasphemous' drive in Celestia - rather the opposite, in fact, as their music just seems to soothe me with its bewildering series of treble tints and cold, blue steel chromaticism. In any case, they are a band worth watching, and definitely worth listening to...