Traumatic Voyage "Traumatized..." LP


Traumatic Voyage was the solo(ish) project of Mark Edward Astorian, who died in 2020. He recorded many albums during his career, and his early records spanned the bridge between black metal, death metal and the avant-garde. His music sounded like nothing else from the time, and nothing else since. His first album ("Traumatic...") was a bizarre meditation that shared an aesthetic with the early European second-wave black metal bands, but was more influenced by death metal song-structures. Astorian showed little of the purity that typified any particular scene or genre. His visions were closer to the likes of Master's Hammer and Sigh, but more extreme. His second album ("Traumatized...") pushes further into the avant-garde than his debut had done. There are five long death metal-ish songs played with a thin black metal guitar tone. Each of them is brimming with screams, anguish, keyboards, film samples, and operatic vocals. These ‘main’ songs are punctuated by shorter tracks; songs, intros, instrumentals, interludes. These lesser tracks provide opportunities for Astorian to heighten the extremity and to experiment further. As such, "Traumatized..." feels more like a 'sound collage' than its predecessor. "Into the Pandemonium" by Celtic Frost is the most obvious influence, but I wonder if Astorian was also a Captain Beefheart fan. There is a similar scattered weirdness to it all. Not quite “Trout Mask Replica”, but heading in that direction. He was aided by an excellent session drummer who gives these meandering songs a muscular, serious vibe. Astorian wasn't interested in making amateurish, Venom-esque black metal. He wanted to make complex, detailed music with proficiency. This album was recorded a year after his debut, but wasn't released for another three years (during which time he added the intro and outro). Reportedly, he had a bad experience with a previous label, perhaps leading to disillusionment and subsequent delay. To be honest, "Traumatized..." could have been released at any point. The music is timeless because it doesn't belong to any time; past, present, future. Projects like this hold a mirror to the extreme metal scene, challenging its inherent conservatism. "Traumatized..." is difficult music. Astorian’s catharsis made for an unapologetic, disjointed racket. This music was not meant for us. This is clear from the beginning, as the electronic intro blends into "Occultation" (the best and most menacing song on the album). The opening of this song is among the most jarring, extreme music out there. It is abstract, chaotic, crumpling noise with near-operatic female vocals on top. This noise merges into recognisable avant-garde metal eventually, but none of it is for the fainthearted. Astorian was laying down the gauntlet for anyone listening. He was an outsider artist to the core. His music was the expression of artistic confrontation. Spiritually, this approach has more in common with Swans or Diamanda Galas than with the average death or black metal band. This is a stronger and more consistent album than the debut. As a listener, it presents similar challenges. This is an endurance test at 65 minutes in length. I lose interest during the second-half because it is near-impossible to concentrate on something this intense for an hour. This isn’t helped by the scatter-gun approach to composition, sometimes resulting in meandering non-epics that fade into the background. Still, all such problems can be forgiven because of the extreme, dark, oppressive nature of the music. No-one, not even Sigh, was taking metal this far left-field in 1993. "Traumatized..." is therefore essential listening for anyone who likes experimental extreme metal. Everyone else might want to give this a wide berth. Rest in Peace, Mark Edward Astorian.

Released by Goatowarex.