Primitive Origins is a column where we’ll look back at proto-metal and early metal that deserves a bit of your battered eardrum’s attention. We’re keeping it loose and easy here: there’s no strict guidelines other than it’s gotta be old, it helps if it’s obscure, and it’s gotta rock out surprisingly hard for its context. Pscyh-ed out proto-metal from the late ’60s? Of course. Early attempts at doom metal from the ’70s? Hell yeah. Underground Soviet metal from the early ’80s? Sure. Bring it on. Bring it all on.
There’s lots of mystery and very little in the way of verifiable facts surrounding Detroit band Astaroth, whose sole recorded output is the “Satanispiritus/Lady of the Moon” single, released in… and here’s where things get fuzzy. 1968? 1975? It was originally released on Adesta Records (which, as best as I can tell, only ever released this single), and Unseen Forces reissued it in 2011 (with a second pressing in 2015). And that’s all I know, man. So let’s get to it.
The title track is a rowdy, street-wise rocker despite the otherworldly lyrical conceit here, the band delivering a brisk and breezy song that veers more early punk than proto-metal, and also sounds more ’75 than ’68 to these years. I don’t hear as much Sabbath as I do MC5, which is a bit jarring—and novel—considering the overall theme here appears to be occult-related. But, hey: fast and rowdy proto-punk with evil lyrics actually sounds pretty good to me. And this song sounds pretty great to me, definitely the better of the two, and definitely worth a few listens, the song being a smash hit up there with the likes of songs from Gedo or Randy Holden in my alternate-reality FM radio station. Catchy, absurdly high energy, well written: everything just clicked here for Astaroth.
“Lady of the Moon” gets more tripped out and occult, the band taking some time to swirl around through what I imagine are trendy nightclubs in LA in the early ’70s with some serious dark shit going on inside them, the band getting a bit too Doors-y at points here for me, even if that vibe actually works for this tune. Worthy of a passing consideration, but the draw here is the A-side for me.
I don’t know, I actually kinda like the mystery surrounding this record. I don’t need to know all the answers all the time with this stuff, and I like to think Astaroth is a band that we’ll never truly know more about.
And, just for the hell of it, here’s Portland stoners Disenchanter covering “Satanispiritus” on the Doomed and Stoned in Portland Volume 2 compilation:
And, whatever this is:
Astaroth’s Satanispiritus/Lady of the Moon – The Decibel breakdown:
Do I need to be stoned to listen to this?: No.
Heaviness factor: Tons of energy but more punk than metal.
Obscura Triviuma: Some have guessed that this is actually a modern recording made to sound vintage, which almost makes sense as there is barely any info on this band out there (one particularly astute online commenter even noted the matrix number on the original record is in line with 1975 matrix numbers from that particular pressing plant). (I tried calling the plant a couple times and emailing a couple times during the writing of this piece to try to confirm this but was unable to reach anyone.)
Other albums: Nothing; aside from this single, they appeared on one compilation with “Satanispiritus” and that’s it.
Related bands: Like I say, it’s all shrouded in mystery.
Alright, fine, if you must: I suppose dropping acid is the appropriate thing to do here, especially while listening to the more tripped-out B-side.