Thursday, 23 January 2014

Extreme Thursday: Astarte

Our brand new Extreme Thursday feature starts with a fantastic band that encapsulates everything Femetalism is about; the all-female black metal outfit Astarte. Hailing from Greece and active since 1995, they have a healthy five albums under their belt (plus an extra one under their previous name, Lloth.)

The band have had three distinct "phases" of their evolution with lineup changes between them. In fact, the only founding member left is Tristessa (Maria Kolokouri), who started out on guitar, bass and keyboard and has since taken up vocal duties.

Initially consisting of Kinthia on vocals, with Tristessa and Nemesis providing instruments and Psychoslaughter providing session drums, the band released Dancing In The Dark Lakes Of Evil as Lloth. An out and out black metal demo album, it's dark, it's harsh, and it proved the band's musical capabilities.

After changing name to Astarte the band released Doomed Dark Years in 1998. The bands fundamental sound remained black metal, although possibly a little more melodic. Under this guise two more albums were produced, Rise From Within and Quod Superius, Sicut Inferius, each building on the last, increasingly production values, musicianship and songwriting as they went.

At this point all changed, Kinthia and Nemesis left the band and Katharsis and Hybris came on board. Tristessa took on the vocals giving a very different sound to the band. At this point the band were also well enough known to attrach guest talent, and Sakis Tolis from Rotting Christ and Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir both guested on their first album with the new lineup, Sirens.

The band's sound seemed to change, leaning toward a much more melodic form of black metal, veering even toward melodic death metal. By the time the most recent album, Demonized came out, the band seemed to have transitioned to a full death metal style, albeit with some black metal underpinnings. An altogether more accessible style.

To complement the shift in style, even more guest musicians contributed to Demonized, including Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy and Attila Csihar from Mayhem. Despite being well received, the band went quiet at this point, producing no more albums to date.

A number of lineup changes have occurred since the release of Demonized, presumably for live appearances. New members Derketa, Ice, and Lycon, leaving only Hybris and Tristessa from the line-up that produced the last album. Demonized is available for streaming or purchase on bandcamp, and I've embedded a player here so you can give it a listen.

In upsetting news, Tristessa is reported to have been rushed into hospital over the last couple of months with a form of leukaemia, ending up on life support. According to the band's Facebook page she has recovered enough to have been allowed home. We at Femetalism send our best wishes and hope for a full and speedy recovery. Keep on rocking.