After releasing two demos and a live cassette in the mid-nineties, Astrofaes made their first full-length entrance into the black metal scene with Dying Emotions Domain in 1998. Rather than focusing on folk influences like many Ukranian black metal acts were doing at the time, Astrofaes instead gravitated towards an extremely raw symphonic black metal sound on this debut. This is chilling, ice-cold symphonic black metal without any of the polish that characterized bands like Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth. People who enjoy old school black metal with atmospheric keyboards and a lo-fi production should be sure not to let this obscure gem go unnoticed.
The most appealing part of Dying Emotions Domain, for me at least, is its desperate and miserable atmosphere. This is old school black metal in its rawest form, and it's bound to send chills down your spine if you've got a good pair of headphones on during a pitch black evening. The symphonic keyboards often help enhance this feeling by adding a hauntingly effective melody every now and again. Unfortunately, the keyboards also serve as a minor detriment in a few songs where they awkwardly dance above the furious black metal madness in the form of cheesy synth tones that are mixed too loudly. That's a fairly minor issue of mine, but I do think the mix does feel rather unbalanced for a good portion of the album.
Dying Emotions Domain also sports a muddy and lo-fi production that makes the album very difficult to fully grasp - I'm all for unpolished productions in old school black metal, but it's very tough to pick out any individual instruments in the tracks. A slightly more professional production would've done the album wonders.
All in all, Dying Emotions Domain is a promising and, in many regards, successful debut from Astrofaes. The sometimes goofy keyboards and poor production may turn off a few potential listeners, but I've had a pretty great time experiencing this little gem recently. People who missed this the first time around should check out the recent reissue on Negative Existence. 3 stars are pretty fair for this solid debut.
1. The Black Woods Theory (1:35)
2. Fiery Mysticism (9:10)
3. At Nightfall (4:34)
4. Path to Burning Space (5:02)
5. Necromantical Screams (4:54)
6. Ad Infinitum, Part II (8:10)
7. Dying Emotions Domain (6:32)
8. A Song of the Night Birds (1:17)
Total Time: 41:19