Unawakening is Astral Sleep's debut album, which they released after just one demo (which consisted of two songs, with total lenght of more than 30 minutes!) which was released in '05-'06. The band's Doom Metal consists of good melodies and riffs, tempo ranging from Funeral Doom-slowness to over mid-tempo, careful use of synths, interesting choices in instruments (such as the mouth organ as a spice in at least one song, and the somewhat frequent use of acoustic guitars), epic song lenghts and a quite a bit of weight put on the atmospheres.

Even though the music consists of a lot of elements, with a lot of influence in riffing coming from Death Metal (but not only from there), the outcome sounds really natural and the songs don't feel like they would have hit a wall in their progress at any point, and the synth-based, skillfully made interludes between all the songs tie the whole album together. The acoustic guitars that are used somewhat frequently (especially in the more atmospheric parts) work really well with the electric ones, giving one a lot to listen, keep the songs alive and interesting, and just sound good.

Due to the band's skill in creating atmospheres that really get to you, and due to the epic song lenghts and the amount of variation, the actual song structures are not that easy to grasp. The riffs are damn good, and even the smallest details and spices have been well thought out - this means that the album has a lot to give over time, and listening to this album doesn't become dull anytime soon.

I must say that I really don't get what the band was aiming for with the cover art, but at least it is different. Lyric-wise the songs are enjoyable and describe some interesting thought processes and ideas. The lyrics could have been presented in a more interesting way, though, as now they occasionally sound a bit sloppy. It's not a big problem, though. Sound-wise the album is really good, and there is little left that would make one notice that this album was completely recorded and mixed at home (!!) instead of a real studio. The songs would have benefited from a bit heavier guitar sound, I think, but at least now there's room for the synth, acoustics and such.

The band has evolved a lot since their demo: the songs progress more naturally, there are no elements that wouldn't perfectly fit the songs, and they are plain more talented. Especially the vocals have gone forward a lot, even though they still sound a bit amateurish at times; this is not a big problem though, as the vocals still suit the music more than well and are performed with feeling. Some people might have to get used to them first, though.

"This piece of Heavy Metal Doom Monstrosity will blow your minds a thousand times!", as stated in the inlay, is not at all far from being true. All in all, there is little to complain here as the album carries through it's lenght with ease. Easily recommended for all Doom Metal-fans and to those who are seeking for something new within Death Metal or more atmospheric stuff.

9 / 10