To me, Dark Ambient is much more that a listening experience. It’s also a journey into ones own mind, to the realm where the conscious and subconscious rarely fuse together. Even though the soothing – often grim – elongated drones elevates our psyche to the realms of the unknown and produce a trance-like emotional state, there are other variables to consider as well. In the case of the magnificent collaborative effort of Ashtoreth & Chthonia, the use of ritualistic soundscapes, haunting narrations and chilling black metal-esque shrills can also produce a comparable outcome. On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’, four sinister compositions is all that is needed to coalesce the inner oracles of the mind, releasing a feeling of modular discomfort and ethereal tranquility.
To begin the ceremonial happenings, “Asir” boldly combine many of the elements I previously mentioned. Dark, liturgical soundscapes make a menacing introduction as they are combined with insane Black Metal styled vocal effects and sacred narrations that will have the listener fully engaged. Void of any prolonged drones, it is replaced by creepy sound effects that enhance the grim vocal arrangements. “Nehalennia” commences with a consoling drone that captures the essence of spiritual beauty, along with various soundscapes and ringing bells. I love how nothing is rushed, allowing for the mood of the music to take hold of the listener and bring them into this dark, captivating world. At almost seventeen and a half minutes long, there is plenty of time for many additional things to occur that will build this mystical journey to be remembered. At around the four minute mark, the drones begin to assemble in layers, creating a space-like vibe. However, as soon as the vocals come in, this track takes on a whole new meaning. This song has such an esoteric vibe that it’s so easy to get lost in its dark beauty. Even at its epic length, this song just isn’t long enough and is easily my favorite one on the album. “Marmarospilia” begins with a field recording of a rain storm and what sounds like crashing waves. However it is soon joined by warm drones and synthwave-like keys and pads, producing more of an obscure sound than on the previous tracks. The layering of these elements create such a massive atmosphere, even with a minimalistic arrangement. This fascinating combination carries on for the better part of twelve minutes and the time passes much quicker that it seems. The final track on the album, “Baetyl”, opens with ominous, howling winds that – at times – screech at piercing volumes. Soon after, the combination of soft, effervescent vocals and deep, guttural tones of throat singing begin to emerge as if providing the main drone for the near fifteen minute long track. Various spots of soft whispers and devilish shrills continue to tell an eerie story that remains gloomy and mysterious. Several times throughout the track, the vocal intensity increases, but always descends into darkness as to not take away from the ritualistic experience. The malevolent chanting that occurs in the last few minutes are epic and I really wish there was more occurrences of this on the album. However, that doesn’t distract from the fact that this song has a certain purity that is nearly perfect from start to finish.
I’ve been a big fan of Ashtoreth for quite some time now and I enjoy the emotional journey he creates through his music. His diverse back catalog crosses several music genres, yet his energy remains the same throughout. This effort, along with Chthonia, is no exception as it takes the listener on a bleak, ritualistic journey that is as haunting as it is cleansing. I highly recommend this album for those of you that like to wander beyond the normal boundaries of Dark Ambient, especially if the addition of harrowing vocals and narrations are your thing. ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’ is the album for you and it demands to be taken seriously. Please support this outstanding collaboration and download this album from the link below.
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