"Astral Doom Musick"

By Dr. Abner Mality

When it comes to unusual marketing gimmicks, Finland's ASTRAL SLEEP have sure got a novel one. If you buy the gatefold vinyl edition of "Astral Doom Musick", you not only get the usual lyrics and credits, but an actual board game meant to be played while the album is on. A 12 page book accompanies the game and album, telling the story contained within and providing rules of the game. I sure can't think of any other album accompanied by its own board game!

Of course, the real test of "Astral Doom Musick" is the quality of the music itself. The album provides four lengthy doom metal songs that all manage to begin with a powerful burst but eventually they all digress to something less appealing. Take "Integratron", for instance, which kicks off with a muscular driving doom riff that has some oomph to it. But by the mid way point, it just doesn't hold up. "Aurinko ja Kuu" starts with a super cool, almost langorous riff that has a cosmic feeling. But later the song gets just plain weird with what sounds like a free jazz freakout and a silly just can't sustain the initial majesty.

On the whole, this is well played and very well produced. Vocals are strange, ranging from a reedy kind of plaintive shout to the more typical death growls. I cannot say ASTRAL SLEEP is a bad band or that "Astral Doom Musick" is a bad album. It just meanders too much and loses focus. Maybe more time should have been spent on the songwriting and less on coming up with the board game...