Throughout the "Suns of Perdition" tetralogy, Panzerfaust has managed to expand upon their distinct sound and infuse it with a clear vision and intensity. In the third act of the tetralogy, the band takes listeners on an incredibly immersive, yet harrowing journey to an outer darkness, documenting mankind's descent into collective madness and forcing listeners to face the mirror of a hideous reality, in all of its glorious terror, horror, and disgust.
The music contained on "The Astral Drain" is incredibly captivating and immediate, whilst retaining a strong sense of atmosphere. In particular, the intensity of the performances is truly something to behold. While many contemporaries may drift toward increased tempos in order to artificially create a sense of intensity, Panzerfaust have achieved songwriting brilliance in ensuring that every moment on "The Astral Drain" is filled with passion and purpose. This is all the more impressive as much of the material seems purposefully composed at a more mid-tempo, allowing for these songs to be embellished with stunning details in melody, primarily provided by guitars, vocal arrangements, effective ambient sections as well as incredibly precise and deep percussion work. Specifically, the drums manage to provide a solid foundation to these monolithic tracks, while offering stunning compositional diversity and creativity. Furthermore, the band's boldness in vocal performance and delivery enhances what would already be a captivating listening experience. As such, it is the fantastic compositional detail placed on each element throughout this record that elevates "The Astral Drain" to stand as Panzerfaust's most accomplished and ambitious work to this date, certainly warranting repeated listens.
The band's ability as songwriters are on full display here, as each song refuses to fall back on genre conventions, instead of allowing the music to develop organically, with movements in each song seeming to convulse and develop into new sections that drive the music forward. This is an impressive compositional achievement, as the shifts in musical form occur naturally, belying the fact that great effort was placed in the fluidity of the music, something that is often ignored in more "progressive" extreme metal.
As pertains to production, the band has managed to infuse these songs with depth and a strong sense of atmospherics that never drains out the main instruments. Produced by Greg Dawson at BWC Studios in Kingston, Ontario, and mastered by Sergei Lazar at CDM Records, Moscow, the sound of "The Astral Drain" is stunningly organic, whilst retaining clarity in all instrumental elements, an impressive accomplishment when considering the audible layers on display throughout the album. The production is warm and entrancing, perfectly fitting the compositions of the record.
Despite - or perhaps due to - this compositional and conceptual boldness, "The Astral Drain" is a profound black metal record, filled with sonic despair and darkness.