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  • Writer's pictureSparky

Astral Winter - Symphonic, Melodic, Epic Black Metal

Josh Young is the force behind Astral Winter an epic atmospheric black metal project. The band released the starkly unique Perdition in 2013 as a one off calm and majestic body of work . The Australian however has discovered that through time this element of Astral Winter is not yet finished

''When the first album was released in 2013 it was just intended as a stand alone one off release with no follow up. I really liked the concept of that album and how it turned out so I begun thinking about doing a follow up, I didn't commit as much time to it initally as I would other albums, I was just writing bits and pieces here and there to assemble properly at a later date.

In early 2019 I went through everything and knew I had enough for a proper follow up and I began working on it fully after that.

How has the band grown from Forest of Silence?

''The band probably became a bit more quiet after Forest Of Silence, my other band Atra Vetosus was gaining a lot more momentum around this time and sort of put Astral Winter on hold. It's been good to dive into Perdition II and really find that inspiration for Astral Winter again, I've also started writing the next follow up full length since too. I think Astral winter grows more with each release and I think Perdition and future material will show that.

How did you know the songs fit within the Perdition concepts?

''Every Perdition song starts with playing my nylon string acoustic, tuned to D standard. Across all projects Perdition is the only 1 I use this tuning for, so really anything I write when playing the nylon in D would have the Perdition feel to me. It's just an association in my mind. Even piano riffs will start on the nylon before I experiment how they would sound on a piano afterwards.

The original sound of Perdition was seen as a one off. Has this changed?

''Yeah, safe to say it has, this changed due the impression that album and the whole experience of writing and recording left on me. It's a very natural writing process for me, just using a guitar and piano. Basically it's jusy a writing and recording process I really enjoy.

''I think Astral has a lot of room for other influences and changes in sound. I would say it has its boundaries though, can push them pretty far but past a certain point I'd do it under a different project.

Astral Winter albums take time to be released. Is this due to finding the perfect material to match the project?

''This is in part due to how long and detailed the writing process is, there's alot of elements in every song, it's very time consuming to even write a small section (excluding Perdition) and the recording process is equally a timely process.

''The other part would he my commitment to my other bands and projects, I have to find a balance to them all.

Is there a sense of freedom being the only one responsible for Astral Winter?

''Initially yeah, this was actually the main motivator when I started Astral Winter was I wanted the freedom to compose and record music myself. Over time though it's just become the new normal, most projects I write and record on my own schedule. Atra Vetosus has become a lot more collaborative in writing material now so that's a good experience too, still a lot of freedom but a lot of additional ideas and different ways of working.

Is epic black metal an appropriate description?

I'''m not sure what the ideal definition of epic black metal is, I think of Summoning, Caladan Brood sort of bands when I hear that label. I'd say Astral has influences of that buy not strict an epic black metal band.''

''Symphonic, melodic, epic black metal. What ever the listener associates it with is fine to me, haha.

Symphonic, melodic, epic and a touch of atmospheric black metal.

To keep it as a single genre title, I'm really not sure what Astral Winter would fall into. Perhaps simply epic black metal is the easiest fit.

Does the geographical isolation of Tasmania allow you freedom to create or do you find it limiting to find like minds?

This was also another factor when I started Astral Winter. In my city I was really the only 1 I knew into this type of music, I soon after met Phil (the original vocalist for Ilusttstikns Of Death), and with collaborated really well on the early material.

Initially, yes, it was kind of isolating to find other people but over the years I've found enough like minded people to collaborate with. The internet is a powerful tool, all my guest musicans on albums since Illustrations have been with people I met online.''

You also have 3 other projects?!

''Would be a few more than this now, haha.

Atra Vetosus. My primary band.

Lost In Desolation, which were quietly working on new material.

Hammerstorm, also working on a new album.

Take This Life, another solo project, just recently finished the 2nd album for.

I have another 2 projects in the works too that should make their presence shortly, inspired by my time living in Taiwan.

Is The source of Black metal your primary influence?

Absolutely, I like different styles of music other than black metal, but when I write it's always black metal at the core.''

What drew you to extreme music and the need to create your own?

''Ever since I started playing guitar as a teenager I was always more interested in what I could create myself over what songs I could learn of other people's.

''I think extreme metal just became an evolution of learning guitar. You learn classic songs at first, then I was learning simpler Punk Rock songs which led to learning Iron Maiden, Metallica and Judas Priest songs and from there it just leads down the long rabbit whole of extreme metal.

How many instrument's do you play?

''Guitar, bass, vocals, piano/keyboards and I recently started learning drums after buying an electric kit.

Does a song title or lyrical idea influence the music?

''Epic fantasy style names that inspire your imagination to conjour up a vivid image from the name, that inspires Astral Winter.

Lyrical ideas are all fairly similar throughout Astral songs.

Lyrically where does your inspiration come from? Is it direct or more abstract?

''Lyrics are all fantasy inspired, epic fantasy novels, fantasy shows & movies, medieval poetry were all the main lyrical inspirations when starting out. Now it's just an ingrained process after doing it for so long.

Do current events influence Astral Winter?

''Not at all. The real world and current events aren't considered in the process.

''The Astral Realm is referenced throughout.

What are your thoughts on the current status of Black metal?

''The style is always evolving and new bands coming out with different sounds. I think it's great. Keeps the genre very interesting and influences my own writing as well.

Why do you think it has become so diverse?

''There's just so much room for creativity in black metal and so many other genres you can pair with it to work so well. It adds a dark edge to a lighter genre, like post black metal or black gaze.

''Also depends on the attitudes of the people listening to keep accepting these new diverse styles, whilst people keep enjoying these styles more will come.

Any new bands you like or ...?

''I've been writing and recording alot lately which means new music is a bit less frequent for me. But I've recently really been enjoying Envy, Sadness, Dreariness and revising slot of older material I haven't listened to in a while.

To the "purists" who dislike atmospheric, symphonic black?

''That's totally fine. Everything likes different things, only time it's an issue is when people feel the need to slam others for their difference in music styles.

Your top 6 of all time?

Woods Of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason

Agalloch - The Mantle

Mono - Hymn To The Immortal Wind

Vinterland - My Last Chapter

Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre monde

Slowdive - Souvlaki

What's next?

Finish writing new Astral Winter material.

Finish recording new Area Vetosus and Hammerstorm and finalise things for the 2 new projects I have in works.

There's no shortage of new music coming.

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