Alastor Sanguinary Embryo (a.k.a. Alastor S.E.) hail from Costa Rica, which has been generating a respectable number of extreme metal acts in recent years. Much like their countrymates, Alastor S.E. have sizable gaps between releases, with For Satan And The Ruin Of The Divine being only the third release in the band’s twenty-year history.
Alastor S.E. play the symphonic segment of black metal, so this will be aimed at fans of early Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, and the like. Album opener We Forged the Wound in the Christian Scar bursts out of the gate with a blasting tempo setting the tone. Lead vocalist Abrahkkan has a throaty delivery well-suited to the material, and the song slows a bit in the middle to give the listener a brief respite and highlight some guitar work from Braexes Malaphar.
Summoning the Beast of Stigmata opens with some haunting keyboards from Aeon before kicking into the blasting established in the first track. Abrahkkan incorporates some deep roars into this song, adding some much-needed dynamic. The bass and drumming by Saaht Noszfeuhl and Sröth Saraïel, respectively, are showcased more on this song than the opener, and I wonder if this wouldn’t have made a better first track.
The third track, War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death, is a bit of an odd duck. It opens with an almost Manowar-esque power metal riff before diving back into established blackened territory. That opening riff returns several times, and the middle of the song goes into some strange sonic landscapes, teetering on the edge of doom metal. For a song lasting just over six minutes, there’s a lot going on.
The make-or-break for For Satan And The Ruin Of The Divine has to be the three-part Black Dysangelion comprising tracks seven through nine. Chapter I: Invocation to Satan is a slow-building, three-minute prayer to the Fallen One. Chapter II: The Holy Ghost Banishment is the six-minute proper song. While Chapter II stays primarily in the established symphonic black metal style, there are nods to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest in some of the guitar bits. Finishing with a heavy organ solo and blast beats, it’s an impressive number. Chapter III: Diabolus Victoriam is just a ninety-second synth fade-out. It doesn’t add anything special to the song, but I can see its purpose.
For Satan And The Ruin Of The Divine concludes with a re-recording of Beyond My Unconscious Deep from the 1997 The Howling Creature of Night demo. Having never heard the original, I’m not sure how it compares, but it definitely has an older feel, and works as a bonus track if you want to think of it that way.
To be honest, my biggest problem with this album is the compression. While I can never be as passionate as the Angry Metal Guy crew about the Loudness War, it sticks out like like a sore thumb on For Satan And The Ruin Of The Divine. With a paltry DR score of 3, the album sounds claustrophobic and almost muted due to the "wall of sound" effect. Opening up the range would highlight the individual instruments and give For Satan And The Ruin Of The Divine some extra intensity.
Alastor S.E. are a talented group of musicians, and their skill is apparent. If they’d add some more variance to the songwriting and ease up on the audio compression, they could be in contention for one of the better symphonic black metal acts working today. As such, For Satan And The Ruin Of The Divine is a solid effort, and fans of this style should head over to the label’s Bandcamp page and give it a listen to decide for themselves.
Special thanks to keyboardist Aeon for the complementary review copy.