HDR - 004 : Astral Luminous - Lunaric Tide


Released: February 27th, 2009
Details: Pro-CDr, 8 page booklet/standard jewel case - Unlimited Quantity
Genre: Ambient Black Metal


Lunaric Tide Review by: Nolan

After many demos (2 of them which are gone now), Scott Johnson finally treats us with a full length album! This is definitely Astral Luminous' best work to date and it shows. It is highly atmospheric, very heavy at times, and it's not filled with repetition like the self titled demo was. When listening to this album, I get the feeling that this is exactly what Scott wanted his project to sound like. A lot of care went into this album, and we had to wait a little over a year or so, but at last it's out and it's fantastic.

This CD starts on a very minimalistic ambient track that is very atmospheric and galactic. Astral Luminous is self described as black metal for the body, mind and soul and this is one of those tracks that definitely fit that description. Some overlapping occurs throughout the song but retains its minimalistic approach to ambience. This is a very solid opening for the mind blowing music to come and if you listened to the self-titled demo, you will notice that it opened with an ambient track as well but this one has no acoustic guitar, just atmospheric keyboards.

The next track is my favourite Astral Luminous song. It is the self titled song, not for THIS album, but for Astral Luminous as a whole. It is called 'Astral Luminous'. It's kind of like when In the Woods... had a song called 'In the Woods...' (not to be confused with their other hit single, '...In The Woods'). This song doesn't hesitate to get its groove on. With fuzz-distorted guitars, we hear the ambient keyboards and vocals backing it up. This song gives Astral Luminous the right to be called ambient black metal. It is very spacey and although it's not the kind of ambient black metal that Burzum plays, the influences from Burzum are there as the keyboards are fairly distant but not so much that you have to DIG to find them. The ambience is there, entering your ears and entering your mind. There a very nice acoustic interlude in this song and new riffs are introduced throughout this song to keep you intrigued. I think Scott took the 'repetition' criticism from the previous album very well and made this album with that criticism in mind because repetition IS used in this CD but it doesn't go on and on like the previous album did. The repetition is used when he knows when to use it and he sure as hell knows when to use it in this song. The main chord progression in this song is just ORGASMIC and very fun to listen to, and you can hear the lead guitar playing with it which I thought was really cool. It kind of reminded me final part of 'Fallen Snow' by Agalloch because this is the kind of thing that Agalloch did, placing various leads on top of that chord progression and having fun with it and you can tell the FUN is there. It is a fairly happy chord progression that still has a strong ambient atmosphere and this is what I admire most in Scott's works.

The vocals on this CD are a departure from the distorted Burzum-like vocals that were heard on the previous album but they are no less than amazing. I would say these vocals sound very close to Xasthur without trying to mimic Xasthur like a lot of new black metal coming out. Drenched in reverb, the vocals echo as if they were from another world, or should I say another plane of existence? The lyrics in Astral Luminous have always been about astral projections and it definitely adds to this atmosphere and I'm guessing Scott had an astral projection and he's using music to describe his adventures. I'm not sure if that's true but it would be beyond cool if it was true. Listening to Astral Luminous is probably the closest I'm ever going to get to an astral projection but it is a very unique listening experience and an adventure I have to keep going on again and again.

Any fans of ambient black metal should give 'Lunaric Tide' a listen right away if possible. However, this album is not meant for everyone. While this album is heavy, it's not aggressive like a lot of other black metal, that's why I'm suggesting it to people that are fans of the ambient black metal genre already. If you can appreciate the artistic side of black metal, I have no doubt that you will love this. This is black metal for the body, mind, and soul and can transport you to cosmic places you have not visited prior to the listening.

It has the power to take you to another plane of existence.


A nearly perfect transcendance (93/100)- By: Matt Coughlin

Track Listing:

1.Lunaric Tide [3:47]
2.Astral Luminous [13:24]
3.Binaural Vibrancy [12:49]
4.Cosmic Dream [10:48]
Total Time: 40:48

Scott Johnson - All Instruments and compositions
Drew from Dark Procession - Session vocals & lyrics

Astral Luminous' debut album is one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking and innovative black metal albums to come out in quite some time. Inspired by the cosmos, astral projection, and human philosophy, this is truly a groundbreaking album filled with hypnotic riffs and trance-inducing ambience. Packaged in a beautiful 8 page booklet designed by Ba'al Graphics. This is highly reccomended and an essential album for all black metal fans or fans of philosophical music/art in general.

After a demo nearly 2 years ago, Astral Luminous is back with his first official full-length release. While I did enjoy the demo, I felt it was pretty flawed with repetition and a lack of completion. After learning about the release of "Lunaric Tide" which is coming up very soon, I felt as though I'd see how Scott Johnson's composition skills have progressed since 2007, and after listening to samplers of the album, I noticed a more mature album oriented sound, as opposed to riff upon riff like the previous release and was quite pleased.Being friends with Skog, the owner of Hypnotic Dirge Records, I received an early copy of the release in order to write this review, so I figured, "why not?"

I was nervous though, that the repetition would still be an issue, noticing that the album was nearly 41 mins in length with just 4 tracks. However, I stayed open-minded enough to listen to the whole thing through on three different occasions, without any distractions. This was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time as far as music is concerned, because I found nothing but sheer bliss throughout.

Unlike "Demo 2007" I cannot draw a stand-out track on "Lunaric Tide" because as mentioned, this album's sound is more mature and focused on creating the album as a whole, than to have extra special moments. Although I will say I do favor the more mellow parts of the songs and feel that this is the icing on the cake of Scott's style. I will say that this is a very successful attempt at creating transcendental black metal and really does define a signature style for Astral Luminous. While the parts of the songs are lengthy and extended, I never found myself once getting bored or anxious for transitions, and even the most extended rhythms and melodies on the album are backed up by dynamic ambience, that is perfectly fitting.

I'm not really an expert on astral projection, but I have an idea of what it's about and this release paints a picture for the listener and successfully portrays this theme, at least it did for my listening experience given my knowledge of the topic.

I still see a little work being needed for one or two of the transitions of the album, but that is hardly noticeable. The vocals are also very well done, although a bit static in style. However, due to the minimal lyrics on the record, it doesn't really factor into the quality of the songs. Production is low budget, but everything is very decipherable for black metal, and there is a very light feedback, which in my opinion only betters the listening experience.

To conclude, I definitely recommend this album to any fan of the ambient and/or black metal genres, or to any individual who wants a CD that they will not only enjoy, but one that will lift their mind. I even think this particular release could almost be considered progressive black metal, due to the nontraditional song structures, extended track lengths, conceptual theme, and variety. While there is still that tiny bit of improvement needed, it just makes me crave the next Astral Luminous release, even more. I look forward to how Johnson's songwriting progresses more.


By: The Moribund Tree(zine)

Astral Luminous creates a stellar form of experimental black metal with his full length entitled Lunaric Tide. The strength of this album lies mostly in the movements and overall song structure of the second and third tracks. There is a feeling of focus and desire to communicate emotion to the listener as if this is the only way to express the ineffable. The assistance of cosmic artwork and dream like ambience further assists the listener to see where Astral Luminous goes for inspiration. This release is ambient for the most part with the exception of the second and half the third track. There is a deep spiritual feel to the space like vacums of stellar droning that seem to force you into meditation, or tell you to prepare as if something were to happen, yet nothing ever does. This is definately a progressive step for fans of traditional black metal styles and for fans of the avant garde you can feel right at home with the progressive quality of this album. This release exemplifies diversity within its own genre and is unbound by traditional standards of black metal. Lunaric Tide is truly an intelligent release as it is not simply nature worship and depressive themes. Straying from the pagan, unholy or christ themed metal that exists in these realms and directing its focus on new age mentality with purpose driven thoughts influenced by the minds of great thinkers, one such as Rudolf Steiner. My only criticism is that maybe with a little more expensive mixing job this record could be more powerful sound quality wise. Highly recommend listening to this on a good quality sound system and not your cheap laptop speakers.

-The Moribund Tree(zine)


From: Marty the Devilman's Music Promotions

A creative and unique album that I have been hearing about for some time, and I was not let down. As I help promote this band online, I have a fair idea of just how much work and effort went into this album, which is, simply put, a work of art. And speaking of art, it comes with some wild artwork by Ba'al Graphics, I believe you can get a peak at some of it on their page.
My personal favorite track was #2, Astral Luminous, named for the band itself. Solid proof that there is still intelligence in the metal world. Hell, you have to have a few brain cells just to read the song titles, let alone contemplate their meaning, which for me is part of the fun.
So get the album, crank it, and gaze at the skies and ponder your existance. Or just enjoy a really good album, whatever your trip is.Special thanks to Skog of Hypnotic Dirge for sending me the demo for review, I only hope it does the album justice.

Line up:
Scott Johnson, all instruments and composition
Drew of Dark Procession, session vocals and lyrics
1) Lunaric Tide
2) Astral Luminous
3) Binural Vibrancy
4) Cosmic Dream


From: Chronicles of Choas www.chroniclesofchoas.com

Astral Luminous is a band for those who seek escapist, minimalist ambience, but still want to face the baring teeth of the world. This is black metal for nautical philosophers and galactic wanderers. Scott Johnson has created nothing short of a dementia-nal void carved from black metal and dark matter on the debut full-length, _Lunaric Tide_.

The title track is a bit sketchy for anyone who doesn't think "ambient" should be considered a musical genre, but things quickly take a turn for the colder as "Astral Luminous" rains down thirteen minutes of torrential meteors. It brings about clarity in this deep space, perhaps attained through breathlessness cured only at the end, where you're left sucked of every last trivial thought. Only then can you understand why music like Astral Luminous is more than the passage of one man, but the experience of many. The only weak point of this track is the guitar part that ends about ten minutes in. It's dynamic, beautiful and would have left a stronger impression if it was continued instead of traded in for an acoustic outro.

Third track, "Binaural Vibrancy", provides listeners with even more fuzz-distortion. It progresses into a large mass likened to a leviathan travelling the skies; a lumbering giant that breaks apart a mountain with one flick of its tail and flies on, ignorant and uncaring to the fact that an avalanche of stone is now heading towards a town full of people. These elements of slow brooding and eruptive passages make Lunaric Tide stand out from the lifeless glob of new releases.

This is an album that you have to think about. Some may find the lengthy tracks repetitive, while others will be able to find and appreciate the differences in each section. The transitions from song to song are a bit convoluted, but it's hard to say whether that's entirely a plus or a minus. The vocals sound closely related to most screamers who pile their lungs atop highly distorted black metal like Burzum, Xasthur, etc. A heavier heaping of them would have offered up more distinctive variety, but then again, when looking at the stars, it's hard to decipher one from the other without looking hard.

Astral Luminous is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy meteoric black metal, you'll never turn away from listening to _Lunaric Tide_. This cosmic composition features not only wonderfully crafted "black metal for the mind, body and soul", engulfed by a sea of cracking guitars and shattering drums, but unique and masterfully drawn artwork. There's nothing to dislike about the band if you've come for music that transcends beyond the metal masses, willing to travel down underground ideas in search of a world of planetary collisions that will never bore.

From: Winter Torments Zine www.myspace.com/winter_torment

Astral Luminous-Lunaric Tide {hypnotic dirge records}

This is a band i have been waiting to hear ever since i first contacted hypnotic dirge. Well I can defidently say that Astral Luminious is right at home on the Hypnotic Dirge roster.

Four tracks of ambient soundscapes with some black /noise influences. The harsh black metal vocals are done complimentary of drew {dark procession} but the musical side and strong point of astral luminous is created by scott johnson.
The music is created almost flawlessly whether the music has you in a hypnotic trance or is tearing your soul with it's raw viciousness. This is a release fans of dark ambient/metal can not miss.


From: Black Belle Webzine www.blackbelle.tk

The debut full length album from North America's one man ambient black metal project Astral Luminous is something of a welcome change from the enormous flood of similar minded acts deluging the world these days.

The field is grossly overpopulated and filled with too many exponents with too much in the way of indulgent soundscapes, barren sprawls of nothingness and mere sonic experimentation passed off as music, often using the black metal tag to disguise these often mundane and frankly tedious workings when little metal bar a handful of generic riffs and strident sporadic shrieks cobbled to endless monotonous passages exists within it.

It is a fact that Astral Luminous is first and foremost an ambient creature but the outfits creator Scott Johnson (all compositions and instruments) has a far better grip on the notion of balancing his significant material with the right measure of ambience and black metal interjections than most who dabble haphazardly with the genre.

This album 'Lunaric Tide' follows a string of demo releases and certainly stands as the outfits most accomplished and cohesive effort thus far, a lengthy four track opus featuring Drew from Dark Procession as lyricist and session vocalist.

Released on the Hypnotic Dirge label (whose owner is responsible for the wintry ambient act Ancient Tundra) 'Lunaric Tide' is an often atmospheric, occasionally repetitious but generally enjoyable expedition into the world of astral projection, subject matter obviously quite absorbing to Johnson.

The hollow spacey and sparsely adorned title track 'Lunaric Tide' begins the foray into this astral universe with a reiterative procession of synth sounds.Drops of spartan melody fall like periodic rain among this drifting galaxy of synth which quite admirably generates the feeling of being lost in space, surrounded by vast infinite nothing.

Free of lyrics and ruled by little but hazy organ drone and some eerie samples this introductory piece is bare bones minimalism with recurring plods and waves of cosmic noise.

Considering the album spans over forty minutes and this composition clocks off just over three of those its a fair indication that ensuing tracks are going to be relatively gargantuan in size.

This is a correct assumption with each one of the consequential three songs sprawling over ten minutes long, the next number in play almost a quarter of an hour long.This is the track which takes the same name as its creator 'Astral Luminous', a composition immediately demonstrating the other side of the acts personality with a harsh growling release of vocals swelling over typically BM riffing.

Wasp stings of guitar and a clatter of most likely programmed percussion with plenty of emphasis on the cymbal clash side of things sweep along in league.

This latter element is fairly prominent whilst often the guitar remains mostly distant and labours behind it and though its a fair bet that a more focused or better production would do wonders with these guitar passages, at just over a minute in a great mournful convoy of lead is introduced and adds more interest to the whole thing.

'Astral Luminous' perambulates through a series of transitions in its evocative journey from this initial fuzzed out black metal approach to the characteristic ambience laden wanderings and while there are those vocals splashed throughout they are pretty far and few in between in the overall scheme of things, it is the music which is the strongest conveyance.

One of the finest moments of this elaborate composition happens near the conclusion of the piece where everything dies away to make space for a beautiful little stringed segment.This ultimately finishes up the song, a redolent lament which is something of a far cry from both the grainy BM haze and the spacey ambient meanderings.

More black metal tendencies and leanings are explored in the beginnings to 'Binaural Vibrancy' which contains some of my favourite moments of the entire album.

Like the previous number this one delves more immediately into guitar based phrases over percussive clatter and somewhat Xasthur type vocal utterances which again are fairly minimal stacked against the extensively rambling excursions carried out by the instrumentation.

The first four minutes here are widespread with repetition with the riffs looping and cycling in similar patterns though a few shifts and transitions are able to keep monotony at bay.

After this point however a different tact sets in where a rolling riff segues into an excellent chugging march of guitar, perhaps the heaviest part of the whole release, pulsing along in time with snarly malicious vocals.

Naturally I favour the heavier inclination over ambient drone so I have a great affinity with this approach which goes on to encompass the first eight minutes or so of the track with the inclusion of some evil vocals and melancholic wafts of guitar.

'Binaural Vibrancy' has a split persona and after assailing the listener with this captivating heavy side to Astral Luminous it becomes an entirely different construction, rounding out the remainder of its rough thirteen minute duration with the ambient aspects.

Here it is comprised of droning mechanisms, bizarre sonic experimentation and what sounds like the plod of robotic footsteps.

Lastly we have the completely ambient sprawl of 'Cosmic Dream' with its waves of synth, intermittent keys and bleeps and droning moods very minimalist in nature.There isn't a great deal going on here, this is possibly a good representation of being trapped in some infinite vacuum and its sedated trance tranquillisation is likely to send you to sleep either in a happy reverie or a bored state of tedium depending on your view of stark atmosphere.

I'll be the first to admit that Astral Luminous does not make the kind of music I personally am a great follower of but I can certainly appreciate its place.

'Lunaric Tide' is an ambitious, intelligent and curious album full of different atmospheres and if you aren’t adverse to astral journeys via ambient music with a fair dab of black metal this will be well worth your while investigating.

Written By Jamie Goforth
©2009 BlackMetalJim


By: Perplexed_Sjel (Encyclopaedia Mettallum)
USBM Gems Do Exist

The necessity or, in some cases, futility of one man bands has often produced the most pain staking arguments between the loyal followers of this genre that we call our own - black metal. Besides the typical rants and raves that follow the depressive sub-genre around, one man bands seems to be the next big thing when it comes to characteristics of a band that is on the agenda for mass debate. These arguments often grind to a halt because we ourselves are unsure of the accessibility that bands of the aforementioned kind possess. It is fair to say that the accessibility is dependant entirely on three essential qualities; A) The mindset of the listener. Are they willing to accept this half-breed into their lives? Are they willing to be open minded? B) The musician. When a musician is devoid of talent, there is no use for a band to exist, in any form so the musician must be up to a certain standard that allows the listener to look beyond the fact that there might be some constraints in a one man band that may hold the accessibility levels back. C) The relationship between the two. It isn’t any good having a listener who is prepared to give a musician a chance to dazzle them when the musician isn’t up to it and it isn’t any good having a listener who isn’t prepared to give a musician a chance when it is universally taught that bands like this do not strive to be the best of the best, they’re in fact a fine representative of the worst that the genre has to offer. Every genre or sub-genre has its own pre-conceptions. Each comes attached with its own universal stereotypes.

For example, depressive black metal is known as the devil incarnate due to its excessively dire characteristics. It would seem that a number of bands have gone unnoticed simply because that fall into this category and because of which, I often find myself shaking hands with anger again because of the ridiculous influence that stereotypes has over a certain field of music. Arguments will not cease, therefore arguments of this type have been a constant annoyance in the underground black metal scene for some time, plaguing the prospective usefulness of a one man band before we have even heard them ourselves. Many form opinions based on the simple fact that a band consists only of one member which don’t reflect well against the positive sides of these types of bands. When it comes to the bands that consist of two members or more, I’m beginning to doubt the necessity of so many individuals within the one band because acts like America’s high flying Astral Luminous are a formidable example of the frightening consequences that constructing a band of the one man kind can have on the sound. ‘Lunaric Tide’, Astral Luminous’ debut, is a sign that a positive future could be within the bands, and Scott Johnson’s grasp. With time comes experience, maturity and wisdom .Three quintessential characteristics that will be required for this band to take the sound of this profound debut onwards and upwards towards the majestic heights of the golden gates, where only the best can pass through on towards the lair where the black metal Gods and Goddesses reside.

The arduous nature of such debates puts a strain on my capacity to be able to take discussions with fellow black metal fans. We’re an opinionated bunch with a fair amount of us displaying our opinions as facts in an ever-so-arrogant manner. I can even foresee cries of “not another depressive black metal band!” in the distance, echoing on and on, reaching the far corners of the earth and keeping the narrow minded locked away in their towers and the open minded chained down to the floor, unable to escape the wrath of the blinkered souls that are set to face an eternity of covering up the best black metal bands out of fear - fear of clichés. This isn’t to say Astral Luminous are without clichés, they most certainly aren’t, but this concoction is terrifically woven around ambient and black metal, making it twice as interesting as most bands within the scene at the moment and beating down the pre-conceptions that America is useless when it comes to forming formidable black metal bands. The so-called USBM scene is one of the most ridiculed and to this day, I still do not understand why. The problems with the “mainstream” sides of black metal have always been the same, but like always, when you scour the underground, there are numerous gems scattered sporadically around the dark caves - Astral Luminous being one of those.

Astral Luminous cannot be claimed to be the most experimental because the material here has a similar feel to bands like Darkspace and Velvet Cacoon, but it fortunately does maintain its own sound, steering clear of the clone description that freely circulates the underground, attaching itself to bands like a leech and sucking their experimental and individual essence from them. This methodical approach is formulaic without sounding repetitive. Scott Johnson has a vivid imagination and he portrays that expressively here in the ambient segments, which link up well with the dark ambient genre, and some of the most dissonant black metal anthems you’ve heard since Velvet Cacoon unleashed ‘Genevieve’ with its highly intoxicating distortion and downbeat production. Although Astral Luminous may have ties to certain bands playing within their field of ambient black metal, Scott Johnson makes sure that he has his own little unique inputs here and there that makes this record both fresh and overwhelmingly exciting. For example, the bass is as audible as one could ever hope for. Unlike the aforementioned comparisons, Astral Luminous like to allow the bass to flow unceasingly below the surface and, in songs like ‘Binaural Vibrancy’, the band really lives up to its name. Astral themes, spaced out guitars and an ambiance that lifts the listeners soul right from out of their body and takes it along the crest of a wave to the unnerving oceans of melody.

Scott Johnson has his own methods of experimentation that most bands of this style do not normally implement within their sound. Audible bass, two fully ambient songs that bring out the dark ambient vibes and believable themes that examine the different sections of life on earth, as well as space and infinite time. The bands song titles, like ‘Cosmic Dream’ or even the records title itself project an imagine of this aptly named band before the record has even reached the middle stages. Long passages of ambiance fit superbly alongside the guitars that supplies the vivid dissonant cogs that turn effortlessly along the streaming lines of spaced out echoes within the soundscapes that stretch beyond their fragile limits into our bodies. The bass is responsible for the ground work and even the percussion, which is usually limited and restricted in one man bands, is accessible, consistent and creatively spread along the portrayal in a style that requires high dosages of hi-hat and snare work that snaps at our toes constantly, causing us to reflect quickly over the mid paced soundscapes that require endless inspections due to their thought provoking sound. The vocals aren’t exemplary of the brilliant that unfolds on this record, but they’re suitable enough, despite being utterly incoherent. The combinational style that sees a great work ethic and continuity between the bass and the guitars, as shown on the self-titled song towards the end as it lushly and lovably sways towards its beautiful ending, is the most inspiring element of the work present here. Scott Johnson has given himself a hard target to beat on his sophomore record but I, for one, am glad he has. Excellently developed to a high standard. A true gem of the American scene.


By: DrummingEdge133 (Encyclopaedia Mettallum)
A Cosmic Black Metal Journey for the Mind and Soul

Astral Luminous is a one man band from a country I would say is not exactly known for quality black metal, the United States. However, this certainly did not stop Scott Johnson, the sole member of Astral Luminous, in creating what could be a future classic ambient black metal album, Lunaric Tide.

Lunaric Tide is actually quite varied while only having four tracks. The opening track is entirely ambient, with varying melodies and strange, almost oriental sounding instruments. This track really just acts as an introduction to the album, even though it is very different than what you immediately get on the second track. The beginning to the second track gives you an idea very quickly of what Astral Luminous is all about, which is deep, dark ambience companied by astral higher pitched guitar notes. This creates for a very thick heavy sound. There seems to be parts that repeat for minutes at a time, giving the album a droning effect, but not to the point where it becomes overly repetitious in any way. The drumming on the second track is quite minimal, with mostly a simple beat carrying on in the background. The second track also has a repeating bass line in the background that is a rare sound in black metal, from my experience. At about the 8 minute mark on the second track, the pace really shifts directions, with a new riff, and the drumming speeds up into a quick double bass pattern. The guitar work on the later half of this track is really high pitched individual notes played fast, giving it a cosmic feel, as if the notes are exploring the space around them. With two minutes left, the guitar work shifts to even more melodic and high pitched guitar noting, with nothing else going on, and this proceeds to the end of the track.

Scott Johnson does have an apparent formula that he adheres to, and while it isn’t the most original, it certainly does have a distinct character and style. He is very distinct in his sound and melodies, and it always feels like the songs are heading in a forward direction, as if traveling through space. He tends to be heavily ambient at times, usually with very ominous sounding ambience, such as towards the end of Binary Vibrancy, there is creepy, machine/industrial like ambience until the song concludes, very strange and unexpected.

The concluding track actually reminds me of something that could come straight out of the last half hour of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ambience here is very dreamy, almost taking you on a journey into the unknown areas of space. For this track, you really can just lay back and be swept up into another universe. The ambience is a mix of subtle and almost harsh industrial sounds. There are no guitars, no vocals, just a variety of strange ominous ambience.

Lunaric Tide is some of the best black metal I’ve heard from the United States, and to think this is the debut of Astral Luminous. Anyone that is remotely interested in ambient black metal needs to get this, because it is really black metal from another universe, or black metal that can take you to another universe. Either way, I don’t see how this can disappoint any black metal enthusiast, highly recommended.

Final Score: 94/100.


From: NekroDeath Reviews and Interviews www.myspace.com/nekrodeath6_6_6

NOTE: Due to the files being sent online for this review, the tracklistings order must have been wrong when Nekrodeath received the album digitally.

Astral Luminous: Lunaric Tide Review.
Undertaken by Old Man Nekro and Lady Nekro.

When it comes to one-man projects Hypnotic Dirge Records really know where to look. With a keen eye for both fantastic music & sheer atmosphere, they present us with a true individual of the dark arts music. Astral Luminous delves deeper than other satanic bands that pass us by. Since 2005, he has had the chance to create & further develop his music through his first E.P. entitled ‘Astral Luminous Demo’. Then, more to the point his full release. This man portrays the true meaning of life through his rather spiritual E.P. ‘Lunaric Tide’.

‘Lunaric Tide’ is a four-track full-length new wave album. Its creator has quite rightly put this album into a new category, called Galactic Ambient Black Metal. This is not only portrayed in the first tracks title - 'Cosmic Dream', but in the music itself. This is ambience personified at it's best! With both a great use of synth and overlapping effects, it creates the listener a virtual place to be. You could almost say that this place would be in a movie entitled (2001) ‘A Space Odyssey’. Minimalist sound opens up your mind & lets your imagination run wild. Just watch out as the ‘galactic’ rocket shuttles whir right over your head!

Track two, 'Binaural Vibrancy' brings us to part three of the category… Black Metal. The guitars turn high on overdrive and coupled with slow yet grinding chords, this makes for great epic black metal. I can only compare Scott Johnson’s vocals with the likes of American depressive Black Metal vocalist from bands such as Xasthur and Leviathan. Yet, it’s all about contrast in this album, so the lyrics for this piece are based around dreams, paintings and new age spirituality. Then, the song progresses into a more groove laden track. We are treated to some great rhythmical breaks & a great heavy breakdown of both the guitars and drums. Finishing off with rather more depressive overtones from the guitars and the sound of heavy machinery slowly ticking over. This is such an unusual dynamic ending for a black metal track, but hey this band is indeed what you would call different!

Track Three ‘Lunaric Tide’, the title track to the release, brings us to the last part of the equation, but not the last part of the album. Ambience! The synth, unlike in track one; takes a turn on the lighter side of things. This coupled with what sounds like whale or dolphin sounds, creates a more naturalistic/ sea – scape atmosphere. This makes for such a wider audience, as the artist has addressed three rather different styles within the first three tracks. Not only that, but he has also pushed the boundaries of new sounds.

Track four ‘Astral Luminous’ returns to a favorite of mine, the black metal fore - front, well with a tad of ambience. The guitars return to their high overdrive making your ears ring, distorting your mind. Layers of ambience flow through your mind as the use of long, drawn out yet minimal vocals gives everything chance to fall right into place. This song definitely rounds off this unusual yet compelling album. Although, there may have been no need for vocals on this last track, as the music itself definitely took me to a new place & gave me new thought for such epic musicianship. The end of this song & album leaves you in a trance as its acoustic set – up floats you out into a life – long dream… quite spiritualistic really… like its creator! One musician on an album, with one listener, is definitely the way you should listen.

It can definitely be said that Astral Luminous have indeed captured, if not created a whole new sub - genre of black metal. The use of the terminology ‘Galactic’ could not have been better suiting even if he had wanted it to be. With the sound he has created, this can only go on to make for more great albums. With this in mind and now with album number two looming in the shuttle - wings, we can only wait with baited breath as to the result to this next masterpiece. With all that this full length has unveiled, it is the start of a new breed that could have the opposition quaking in their boots? Well… I don’t know about you… but I certainly think so!


From: Nocturnal Cult Webzine www.nocturnalcult.com

Ambient black metal from the infernal heat of Texas, yet somehow Astral Luminous is musically quite the opposite from their environment. Their debut album is cold, murky, and somber. The title track breathes foggy soundscapes that bring to mind mist shrouded coves with lurking gulls and humid, chilly atmosphere. The second track drifts more towards a sunnier melody painted against gray seas of fuzzed out guitars. The riffing is very mesmerizing in its repetitiveness and frayed edges. The clean guitars that close out the track are delicate and barren and elicit an emotional outpouring from the listener. Binaural Vibrancy uses soft strokes of dissonant yet hypnotic riffing to paint vast and obscure landscapes somewhat along the lines of Xasthur or Burzum The chugging guitar riffs in the song's middle passages directly go against this impression however. The songs rolls to conclusion with ritualistically mechanical ambient instrumentation. Cosmic dream forays deep into interstellar voids not unlike a more structured and paranoia-inducing version of Neptune Towers. The guitars have deep depths to their sound due to the fuzzed out production. Despite the promo pack stating this album being inspired by the Cosmos and astral projection, I really feel the music is organic and grounded within natural wonders. Aside from the drum machine of course. Astral Luminous' debut album is a thought provoking and emotionally stark black metal voyage, similar in feeling but different in execution to Velvet Cacoon. Lunaric Tide rolls in chilled atmospheres like a fog bank that slowly drifts in and obscures all distances and blurs out clarity, leaving only impressions and shadowy visions.

Reviewer: Bradley Smith


From: Meridian 9 Magazine - Issue #3; Review by: Owen Wears
Astral Luminous
Lunaric Tide
Hypnotic Dirge Records - 2009

This is a bloody great album. I shit thee not. It's not a terribly long album, but it is a damned good one. This texas based one man act has been producing music for a few years now, but "Lunaric Tide" was the first I had heard of Astral Luminous. This disc was provided for me via downlod, for the purpose of review, by Hypnotic Dirge owner Nick Skog. When I first gave this burned disc a spin I was expecting a Dark Ambient piece filled with purely tonal, albeit haunting, soundscapes. What I got does indeed incorporate those haunting soundscapes, but they bookend two of the damned finest Black Metal tracks I have had the pleasure of listening to recently. Though stripped down and almost totally reliant on a fuzzed out guitar work, these two songs have struck a chord with me. The riffage is not overly complex or technical, rather these two songs are driven by simply damned good songwriting and the solidarity of the riffs contained therein. The first and fourth track, as mentioned are indeed Dark Ambient. Not only do they add mood and atmosphere, but they serve as the perfect lead-in and lead-out on this disc. If, like many folks these days, you are cutting back on spending, I would urge you to spend a few of those hard earned dollars and snag this fine piece of music. My compliments to Hypnotic Dirge and to Astral Luminous both.
Wears - 8/10


From: Defiance E-Zine www.myspace.com/defiancemagazine

Astral Luminous suggest the music they create in the band title. The album projects you into another plane, another mind zone and in another world with a helping of black metal thrown into the mix.

Even though the album is only 4 tracks long, the way each track is done it's like having 4 tracks in one! Shifting from the extreme black metal on "Binaural Vibracy" to the more sub-due and tame clean guitars on "Astral Luminous". These tracks are a prime example of what this band has achieved. The Jeckel and Hyde effect on all the tracks. It goes from mellow to evil to beautiful all in the space of 1 track. Definitely worth checking out if you want your Black metal mellow and with a twist of unique.


From: Asgard Root Magazine www.myspace.com/asgardroot

Astral Luminous are located in the unlikely city of Texarkana, a city in Bowie County, Texas whose motto is 'twice as nice'! Well, Astral Luminous, signed by Hypnotic Dirge, have unleashed their unique blend of astral black metal instrumentation and ethereal ambient soundscapes influenced by the great philosophers and new age spirituality alike. Elements of drone and 'tranquil noise' intersperse sprawling swathes of black metal that recall Odium and Limbonic Art. The final track sees Astral Luminous levetate into the spheres of ambient drone, isolated from its metallic elements, roaming free to discover new planes as a bass wobble provides backdrop to the scene of intergalactic exploration that unfolds. This is an interesting release, for sure, but despite its charm and sophistication there are a few unmemorable moments that makes it hard to elevate the status of Lunaric Tide to echelons that match its astral influences. - nonetheless, there is much to enjoy here.
Geoff - 75/100


From: Metal Waves Webzine www.metal-waves.com

Original French Version

Voilà, deux ans après sa première démo, que je tiens en main le premier album d'Astral Luminous.

Pas mal de changements ont eu lieu depuis. Tout d'abord, naturellement, la production s'est améliorée. La guitare, et même la basse, sont bien audibles ici. Le chant n'est plus aussi distortionné, et les parties Dark Ambient prennent encore plus de place pour faire carrément partie intégrante de la musique. Il ne s'agit plus de mettre un peu de Dark Ambient ici ou là, mais de titres entièrement composés dans ce style.

L'intro émane une sorte d'aura mystique qui va très bien avec le thème général du projet. Ça évoque l'infinité de l'espace, entre autres, mais d'une façon différente de celle de Darkspace par exemple. Puis entre en jeu le Black Metal à proprement parler, et c'est là que commencent à se forger les premières impressions.

Les différences se font tout de suite sentir. Le chant est plus mis en avant qu'au passé avec moins d'effets, les instruments sont beaucoup plus audibles, et on peut facilement discerner les riffs et les mélodies jouées par la guitare. Le point faible concerne la batterie programmée qui, heureusement, n'est pas totalement ratée en ce qui concerne sa qualité sonore, mais ça peut toujours être mieux.

Il y a certaines parties où la basse sort un peu du lot pour faire son propre jeu, et c'est vachement bien exécuté. Elle vient apporter une certaine touche difficile à décrire au milieu de tout cette vague de répétitivité (à ne pas prendre au mauvais sens du terme). En effet, la musique est du genre répétitif mais hypnotisant, et c'est même efficace, chose plutôt difficile à atteindre sans passer par un sentiment de lassitude qui pourrait s'installer tôt ou tard chez l'auditeur.

Les parties Ambient comme je l'ai dit ne manquent pas (je dirais même qu'elles prennent une place plus important que le Black Metal). Mis à part l'aspect spatial ou mystique dont elles disposent, elles ont une sorte de voile éthéré qui les entoure, comme pour mieux plonger l'auditeur dans cet énorme océan qu'est le cerveau humain, avec toutes les capacités dont il est capable.Le meilleur exemple est la dernière partie du titre Astral Luminous, jouée avec une guitare clean et des synthés et qui me donne un certain air de déjà vu, seulement je n'arrive plus à me souvenir du nom du groupe chez lequel j'ai entendu quelque chose de similaire.

Le dernier titre est quant à lui différent. Ça ferait tout de suite penser au film 2001: A Space Odyssey. L'espace, le noir, et être perdu dans tout ça, c'est le genre de sentiments qu'on peut avoir à l'écoute de Cosmic Dream, qui d'ailleurs porte bien son nom.

En tout, cet album est très bon pas vers l'avant de la part de Scott Johnson, mais il reste toutefois du travail à faire. Même si la musique est efficace et qu'elle procure les effets souhaités, il reste quand même un peu de chemin à faire pour se forger un son propre à ce projet.Je suis certain que la prochaine réalisation d'Astral Luminous sera encore plus intéressante, et je croise donc les doigts en l'attendant !

Par Belial

Translated English Version

That is, two years after its first demo, I'm holding the first album from Astral Luminous.

A lot of changes have taken place since. First, of course, the production has improved. The guitar and even bass, are audible here. The song is not as distorted, and the parties Dark Ambient take even more room to squarely part of the music. It is more than putting a little of Dark Ambient here or there, but composed entirely of tracks in this style.

The intro comes a kind of mystique that goes very well with the overall theme of the project. It evokes the infinity of space, among others, but in a manner different from that of Darkspace example. Then comes in the Black Metal itself, and that's beginning to shape the first impressions.

The differences are immediately apparent. The song is put forward to the past with fewer side effects, the instruments are much more audible, and one can easily discern the riffs and melodies played by the guitar. The low point for the programmed drums, which fortunately is not entirely unsuccessful in terms of its sound quality, but it can always be better.

There are some parts where the bass takes a lot just to make his own game, and it's damn well executed. She comes to bring a touch difficult to describe the midst of all this wave of repeatability (do not take the wrong way). Indeed, the music is kind of repetitive but mesmerizing, and it is very effective, something rather difficult to achieve without a sense of fatigue that could move sooner or later in the listener.

Ambient parties as I have said no shortage (I would say they are taking a more important Black Metal). Apart from the spatial aspect or mystical in their possession, they have a sort of ethereal veil around them, the better to immerse the listener in this huge ocean that is the human brain, with all the capabilities they can . The best example is the last part of the Astral Luminous title, played with a clean guitar and synths and gives me a certain air of deja vu, only I can no longer remember the name of the group with whom I have heard something similar.

The last title brings forth something different. That would immediately think of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The space, black, and lost in all this is the kind of feelings we may have to listen to Cosmic Dream, which also bears its name.

In all, this album is very good step forward from Scott Johnson, but there remains work to do. Even if the music is effective and provides the desired effects, there is still some way to go to forge his own for this project. I am sure that the next realization of Astral Luminous will be even more interesting, and I have my fingers crossed while waiting!

By Belial


From: Heathen Harvest Webzine www.heathenharvest.com

There is alot of good black ambient released nowadays compared to that weird keyboard based nonsense that was so popular the golden years around the time when Varg Vikernes was locked up in the wasteland of Norway. When you dive into that seemingly endless sea of releases there are a few beacons that really differ from the huge mass. Astral Luminous is one of those acts and Lunaric Tide presents a sound so barren and desolate that they almost compete with Darkspace in crafting music that really blasts you away with its pure atmosphere. Lunaric Tide is a gateway for anyone who seeks to escape the boundaries of this world and a must have for all the mad dreamers and prophets of chaos. The music is more then just ambience and beautiful landscapes, it is a vision of the nothingness that exists just beyond our own sphere of reality and this vision makes the album soar above all the other mediocre ambient releases out there. At first I was not sure what to make of the composition of the album, but in time I realised its greatness. Lunaric Tide is a beautiful selection of songs all interwoven into a web so grand that it makes my mind go blank.

The title track is a song composed of drones banded together with a multitude of weird almost whale like chants. The recording sounds like something taken from a really old tape-recording and it really works with this kind of atmosphere. The first track is little more then a taste of things to come and it works although it is not really anything special. But if the album is the canvas then the first track works great as the first layer of paint.

Astral Luminous is just great, the combination of guitars and the overwhelming atmosphere hits you like an axe in the forehead. The chanting growls work excellent as a focal point for the wonderful riffs. The guitar is really a passage through time and the ending of the track is small pieces of heaven turned into sound with that acoustic guitar still linger on in my head.

Binaural Vibrancy continues the journey and yet again the song is among the finest in atmospheric metal I have heard for quite a while. The lingering sensation that something wicked this way comes is blended with the mass of infinite space into a perfectly chaotic blend of atmosphere, darkness and bleak soundscapes.

Cosmic Dream ends this fine album with a haunting yet effective start of drones and madness that keeps on grooving into something that can only be described as a darkened imagination of what the space would sound like if it showed up in your head and started to sing. It is an excellent ending for a most excellent album indeed.

Lunaric Tide is a album I highly recommend for anyone into black ambient and it is most definite worth to check out if you like bleak and atmospheric black metal as well. The album might not please everyone however and if you know for sure you have a dislike for lengthy songs this might not be up your alley since the songs are a bit over 10 minutes in 75% of the songs. Check it out on myspace and you’d probably get drawn into its majesty in no time, this is not for the feeble of minds..

Reviewer: Skarsnik


From: Lunar Hypnosis Blog www.lunarhypnosis.blogspot.com

Astral Luminous is an ambient/black metal project from Texarkana, Texas, USA lead solely by multi instrumentalist Scott Johnson. At forty minutes in length and consisting of four songs, ‘Lunaric Tide’ features two ambient songs and two lengthy black metal compositions.

The album opens with the title track, which is a nearly four minute ambient piece that carries a very cosmic sort of spacey vibe to it, which certainly lives up to both its title and the bands name. The second song, ‘Astral Luminous’ clocks in at thirteen minutes and continues in a black metal style. While the music does contain the traditional trebly raw rhythm guitar that many black metal bands employ there is also a lead guitar which plays some absolutely beautiful and clean sounding melodies which are both very dark and melancholic in character, but regardless very pleasing to the ear. The bass guitar is even audible at times and some acoustic guitars are also used at the end of the song, which really allow this one to end on a positive note. The vocals, although limited, are actually handled by a session musician and while they are somewhat typical grim raspy black metal growls they do at least fit the music fairly well.

The third song, ‘Binaural Vibrancy’ is another epic at just a little under thirteen minutes, but this song I find takes the music in a much darker direction and generally eschews some of the melody from the previous song as well as the more sorrowful tendencies in favor of a misanthropic approach (at times). The final four minutes of this song then conclude in a sort of ritualistic like ambient manner. The final song, ‘Cosmic Death’ is a ten minute pure ambient piece, which is dark and droning and sort of gives that vibe of just drifting endlessly through space or some sort of celestial void at least. Trippy stuff indeed.

After some time, I’ve come to realize that this is quite a good release, though I think the vocals could stand to be slightly more original and perhaps adding at least one more black metal song wouldn’t have been a bad idea either. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a cleaner production to bring out all the melodies clearly, but what is done on this album certainly works fine. Lunaric Tide offers up some excellent ambient/black metal music here and it really will be interesting to see what Scott comes up with next.

Reviewer: Joe Mlodik