11 Paranoias don’t do things on a small scale, it is full on mind-fuckery across every level of their releases. From the artwork to the music to their approach to bringing it all together, the experimental noise/psych/doom three-piece have returned yet again with their 5th full-length release and quite possibly their heaviest yet. As part of a musical alchemic trilogy with their previous two releases; ‘Stealing Fire From Heaven’ and ‘Reliquary For A Dreamed World’, ‘Asterismal’ completes the circle and turns ideas into reality, making music from ideas and allowing it a life of its own. Headphones are recommended for this release, it is best to take it all in with no distractions from the outside world!

Whilst the previous two releases lent more prominence to the drums and the bass elements of the band, ‘Asterismal’ focuses more on the guitar, allowing it to take the lead focus. From haunting clean arpeggios to crushing, fuzz-laden distorted walls of noise, wails of feedback and riffs with a towering presence, it is another intense sonic assault which captivates and terrifies at the same time, a theme which is common in all the band’s releases to date. The bass and the drums still contribute in equal measures, but their influence is not as prominent as those of the guitar and its monstrous presence.

“Loss Portal” opens the release with a short, subtle bass sequence before it crashes down into a colossal wall of distorted filth. Chaotic drum fills echo around the monolith of noise from the guitar and bass, but the pacing is tame, progressing at a much slower pace, allowing for exponential growth in the atmospheric and suspense elements of the music. Slow to start, a howl of feedback three minutes in eventually acts as the signal for things to pick up; huge doomy riffs and chaotic samples shift the track forward a gear and the hypnotic element from the simplistic, repetitive rhythm makes the chaotic feel from the electronic sample components and the vocal noises lost between the layers of guitar and bass all the more intense. “Bloodless Crush” is a complete U-Turn, instead adopting a more desert rock like approach in pacing but retaining the fierceness of the band’s usual approach. Fast paced and energetic, it is an avalanche of noise loaded with groove, simple and highly effective!

“Vitrified Galaxy” rounds out the first half of the album (Non-CD/Digital format) and it returns to the more familiar realm of the sustained crushing approach. Rhythmically hypnotic and the feel predominantly dictated by the ambient noise effects, there is a distressing edge to the atmosphere of the track and the drone like feel emphasises this even more. This then paves the way for “Prelude”, one of the four tracks which is exclusive to the non-vinyl formats. This track is merely a short transition of sorts, a link from the ambience of the previous track and a set-up for the impact of the next track; “Slow Moon” which hits like a sledge hammer when it does start. “Slow Moon” shatters the hypnotic horrors with intense noise. The steady, hammering pace, lingering samples and vocal noises and filthy distorted elements make the first half of the track an unsettling experience, almost wraith-like with how it lingers and waits to strike. Round the halfway point, the feel changes. Johnny Kelly-esque drumming combined with swells in a melodic direction with regards to the progression and an awkward, angular lead guitar points to the track becoming less drone like and more psychedelic, showing some life and character in the bleak and oppressive expanse of ‘Asterismal’ so far. “Quantitative Immortalities”, the second non-vinyl exclusive track resembles the previous track in several ways – initially heavy and becoming more animated as it progresses, hypnotic and psychedelic expressiveness and odd, buried melodic components. Again, it builds to a point before it all gives way under its own weight and comes crashing down with plenty of intensity and direction, sacrificing atmospheric tension for raw noise and power.

Closing the album is “Chamber Of Stars” which is a lot less intense than the rest of the release. More free-form and angular, it has a more jazz-like spirit behind it, pointing heavily to the band’s experimental tendencies. A bit of a strange way to conclude the release compared to the heavier aspects present on the previous songs, but the final sequence of the track which begins round the 4-minute point does significantly up its intensity factor. This then leaves the two final bonus tracks, “Acoustic Mirror” and “Acoustic Mirror II”, both exclusive to either CD or digital download. Both tracks are essentially the same thing, the only notable difference is that ‘II’ is longer. Both tracks have the slow build intro which grows in presence, the drone-like fuzz refrain which acts as a melodic director and the sound of the bass is almost Cliff Burton like with how it rumbles on “Anaesthesia”. The guitar joins in, adding even more to the drone and fuzz, helping build up the suspense once again and squeals of feedback augment this perpetual building feel, only for it to never break out into the chaos you anticipate, leaving the tracks to fade out into silence.

In all, “Asterismal” is another intense musical experience from 11 Paranoias. Where some bands focus on simply getting louder, more technical or more complex with their delivery in order to become more intense, 11 Paranoias simply build on the simplistic approach they have always kept, focusing more on the subtle ways of nudging the atmosphere along. Instead of simply overloading the gain, the band stick with adding things between the layers, the audio equivalent of the flicker you saw in the corner of your eye, the presence you think is behind you in that dark alley. With “Asterismal”, 11 Paranoias have simply continued to do what they excel at, and that is let the music do what it wants as it makes you uncomfortable for every second of its duration.

(8/10 Fraggle)