I missed the 2015 Shards Of Silver Fate album by Midnight Odyssey, the cosmic/ambient black metal project that Australian auteur Dis Pater chooses to express himself through; a situation I am going to have to correct. You see just before this appeared on the review list I was happily being buffeted once again by the currents within the 2011 album Funerals From The Astral Sphere and being reminded why I love it so much.

This lengthy double album is a compilation, a collection of old demos, singles and previously unused songs from 2007 to the present, including a cover of Emperor’s classic ‘Cosmic Keys From My Creations & Times’. In some respects that excellent, vibrant cover is the key to Midnight Odyssey. Dis Pater weaves a sound with heavy, tidal keyboards and elemental riffing that has trails of cosmic pathways right back into the nebulous heart of those early nineties sounds but tingles and blazes and whispers with the energy of the present. There is such a purity to the sound; a time when black metal was untouched by the contagion of post-rock, when seemingly across the world single minded individuals decided to travel alone through the musical spheres of black metal simply to see where it took them. Here we are, in 2017, and Midnight Odyssey still have a soul filled with wonder and exploration. It’s remarkable.

Within this series of signposts and footprints you may be reminded of those times by the odd echoes of other past names. There are points of reference when if you followed the path away from here you might find the neo-classicism of early Arcana or perhaps Elend, or Burzum and Limbonic Art in others but if you keep with these currents you are firmly in the flow of Midnight Odyssey. Gentle, meandering keyboards drift through the void, suddenly catching on a stronger current and being pulled into a turbulent maelstrom riff and swirl of echoing harsh vocals. One moment floating in some pale protean light and the next hurtling through dark currents as though shot between opposing gravities. But it’s the constant sense of wonder and exploration that keep me enthralled, the sense of being the astral traveller through places where wonder, fear and exhilaration exist in a constant upheaval.

This is obviously a compilation, some long gaps between tracks here and there (at least on my review copy), but there is such a consistent quality here, such a sense of vision and identity that it works beautifully as an album. Favourite passage? Oh, at the moment ‘Magica’ with its superb balance of ominous bass, epic orchestration and twisting, swirling dark travel.

If you already know Midnight Odyssey then this is actual that rarity; an essential compilation. If you are new, then it’s not a bad way to journey with them fire the first time.

A true sense of wonder. That’s what they have.

(8.5/10 Gizmo)