Perdition II huh? Well I missed Perdition I so can’t give you a comparison as to how the pieces fit together, so this is simply based on what I have.

It’s that odd genre of music again; you know, the one where it is steeped in black metal and yet the music has nothing to do with that genre sonically. I guess it’s one of the greatest things about black metal is that it is a genre that is very, very much not simply about the sound, but about preoccupation and intent. It’s why some bands may sound the part but will never be (Agalloch, others, all fine bands) and others that sound nothing like black metal somehow are. And Astral Winter fit neatly into the latter alongside Druadan Forest or much of Dis Pater’s output.

So Astral Winter set about their beguiling of us with ‘Corridors Of time’. It sets the tone for the entire album perfectly; soft sounds of nature, simple strumming of notes in a close, deep woods and nature style. Acoustic, clear, simple. Slowly it layers a little, the keyboards ebb and flow in the background, birdsong reaches us. The ‘Light Of the Cosmos’ steps in and the piano comes to the fore, leading us on.

This is the style we follow throughout the album; piano or picked and strummed guitar, a backwash of rich keyboards to conjure an image of a gentle landscape. Everything is quite gentle in this land. This is not the raw, bleak windscapes of Fellwarden, or the lurking darkness of Druadan Forest or the feral howl of Forteresse. This is majestic, for certain, but with the spirit of some great eagle gliding high on thermals above snow-capped mountains and epic forests. It cranes its neck, looking up to the skies, and out towards the stars as forces shift and twist and turn in some mysterious plan out there.

This is a lovely, relaxing album to be sure. A warm blanket, an intimate evening maybe. The downside is that there is little variation if I’m honest. Beautiful as the sound is, gentle as the waves are that wash over you it entices you to simply drift away. Now that of course is often a good thing, and shows a lovely touch, but perhaps it means the journey is never fully engaged with. I sit and I see the world spread out before me but I don’t go to these places that it reveals. I glide over them, apart, untroubled, safe and warm.

There is a place for this of course, and it is a lovingly put together piece of music that I know I will turn to at appropriate moments again and again. It relaxes and comforts me effortlessly. But it is a world in the eye of an eagle, not the traveller. Take it as that and I’m sure you will find a place for it in your heart.

(7.5/10 Gizmo)