Astral Sleep Full Biography
Astral Sleep was founded in 2004 in Tampere, Finland by Markus Heinonen (also Night of Suicide, Kausalgia, Satan’s Fall, Stone Ship), together with bassist Jaakko Oksanen (also Sightless, Vesperith) and lead-guitarist Rolle Heinonen. Later on, the band recruited Jiri Pyörälä in drums (in 2008), and Aaro Haverinen (also Bloody Heathen, Kausalgia) in guitar (in 2019).
Astral Doom Musick (2020) is Astral Sleep’s third full-length album, and sixth release overall. Over the course of its production, the band has become acknowledged for a cross-disciplinary approach towards doom metal—one that aims at narrating variable states of mind and spirit, and worlds where the verges of dreams and madness intersect with those of astral dimensions. Accordingly, musical building blocks blend together into monstrous chimeras dictated by the narrative.
2004–2005: Giving birth to the first bastard—The Making of S/T:
In summer 2004, Markus asked his old friend and band mate Rolle to start a band with him. Markus was inspired by the hypnotic stage performance of Unholy, and wanted a doom metal band of his own.
At first, Markus handled drums and vocals, while Rolle was in guitar. The two asked Jaakko to join in as the bassist. Markus, Rolle and Jaakko had already played together back in 2002, so the cooperation was quick to bear fruit. Before late, the trio had three authentic songs in their repertoire, and booked a gig in Kauksurock 2005. Markus moved to rhythm guitar, while Rolle’s little brother Roope played the drums for the gig.
In September 2005 the band moved forward with drummer Rolf Pilve (also Dreamtale, and Sightless with Jaakko) to record the demo. After several documentary video clips, hundreds of beer cans and unspecified quantities of experiments, metal and madness, Astral Sleep's first demo S/T was finalized two months later, in November 2005.
2006–2008: The Making of Unawakening
Meanwhile, new material had come up, and by spring 2006, five new songs were ready. After many crazy ideas, one stood stronger than the others: Astral Sleep would record their 1st full length album!
Tommi (later in Kausalgia with Markus), an old friend of Markus would play drums for the album, and he joined a couple rehearsals in the summer with the band. Recording started in August 2006 with Markus playing his guitar parts. A little later Jaakko's bass and Rolle's guitars were recorded. In November 2006, Tommi recorded drum tracks in Markus’ living room using an electronic drumkit.
Based on their interest towards the demo, a Russian doom-metal label Solitude Productions signed the debut album for release. Unawakening was released in 2008, receiving contradictious welcome among the media.
2008–2010: The Making of Angel
Before the release of the debut album, Astral Sleep had already progressed to a subsequent work, namely their 1st EP that would become known as ‘Angel’. Three songs were written for the EP by Markus, Jaakko and Rolle writing one track each. In spite of that, each song had the same name, Angel, and same lyrics. Astral Sleep’s first permanent drummer Jiri joined the band in January 2008, and the new songs were practiced together over the course of the winter. In June 2008, Astral Sleep entered D-Studio in Klaukkala to record the new material over one madness-soaked weekend.
One year passed in respite, while Markus and Jaakko did their military service, but in autumn 2009, the band continued with two club performances in Heavy Corner and Lepakkomies in Helsinki, alongside with the legendary Colosseum and Saattue. The band performed songs from S/T and Unawakening.
Angel was released by Solitude Productions in October 2010. Similar to Unawakening, Angel was received with contradictions, not least because of its deliberately confusing concept and lyrics.
2010–2012: The Making of Visions
During the respite, not all was completely motionless. Songwriting continued in silence, and soon Markus, Rolle and Jaakko had all written new songs each in their own corners. By the beginning of 2010, five new songs were once again ready. Some of the “new” material was actually pretty ancient; the first two riffs in Towers are the first two riffs of all Astral Sleep’s, all the way back from 2004.
The new songs were practiced and relentlessly re-arranged over the winter 2010, and a pre-production demo was recorded in the summer in an archaic home studio in middle of the picturesque country-side of Toijala. From the demo session, a sole song “Carbon” was dropped off the album and released as a demo tape, but has since disappeared into the digital cosmos.
The band concentrated on practicing the remaining four songs for the coming year, and did a bunch of live shows. The band appeared on stage five times between the autumn and spring in Helsinki and Tampere, alongside some great doom acts such as Saattue, Night of Suicide, Garden of Worm and Skepticism.
The main production of Visions took place in D-Studio in July 2011. Five days were spent in an almost sleepless, frenzied state of mind while recording all the instruments, vocals and sound effects for the album.
Visions was released in September 2012 by Solitude Productions. The album received more enthusiastic welcome than the previous works. For example, doom-metal.com selected Visions as the album of the month in March 2013: ”There is a thin line between genius and insanity, so they say, and, if so, Astral Sleep's trajectory straddles both sides of it like a high-top juggernaut thrashing down the central reservation, one set of wheels on each carriageway and the throttle wide open”.
2012–2017: Years in jamming—The Making of Subconsciousnesslesskoe
After Visions was released, Astral Sleep went through a partial hibernation from 2012 to 2017. The years were spent playing improvised songs to develop the band’s musical skills.
Amidst this evolutionary stage, the band once again entered the D-Studio in June 2014, and the 2nd EP Subconsciousnesslesskoe was recorded in a three-day studio live jam. Of hours of material recorded, the band sculptured a 45 minute monument of psychedelic doom jam. The EP was released in 2015 by the band, in digital format.
In August 2013 Markus, Jaakko and Jiri took a three-day trek in the solitude of Lapland wilderness. During the pilgrimage, some old and new ideas became combined into the first vague image of the next full-length album’s themes and concepts.
2017–2020: Towards the definition of Astral Sleep—The Making of Astral Doom Musick
In 2017, the band set to full blaze again, and started working on their third full-length. Hours and hours of rehearse tapes preserved from the years of jamming were examined, and best chords and riffs were picked to serve as corner stones for the new songs. New music was written to complete the songs, and the story that had been brewing for years, finally took form. The work became a mythological saga of a truth-seeker traversing through obscure places and mad visions. The more the band became absorbed in the story, the more the ideas for album art, board game and music videos also developed.
Main production of the new opus started in early 2019. The band attached Aaro Haverinen as the new lead guitarist, while Rolle retained a temporarily smaller role for the album. In July 2019, the band spent five days at Lammaskallion Audio in Tuusula in ensemble playing. During the time, base tracks for the album were recorded with all members, instruments and amplifiers live in the same room. Afterwards, multiple layers of guitars, vocals, orchestrations, percussions, effects and ambient sound tracks were added on top of the base tracks.
Amidst the thick of the album making, Astral Sleep made also two stage appearances, first at Saarnifest I in November 2017, alongside with Bloody Heathen, Alabama Kush and The Wandering Midget, and the second time at Bar Maanalainen in Tampere, in November 2019, with Atom Works and The Fërtility Cült.
Astral Doom Musick - vinyl and board game was released 22.5.2020 by Saarni Records. The album combines the pristiveness and massiveness of Visions' epic death doom with Subconsciouslessnesskoe's psychedelic doom jams, and defines the band's artistic vision.