Bulgaria’s Shrine (Hristo Gospodinov) is back with a follow-up to 2016’s Ordeal 26.04.86. Rather than the Chernobyl disaster theme of that album, Celestial Fire tells a fictional story, based on the Tomb Raider III video game, of a search for alien artifacts. But the six tracks of this album can be listened to and enjoyed without any knowledge of or reference to such background.
While one could roughly lump Shrine into the “dark ambient” category, doing so would ignore his toying with post-industrial elements. As such, Celestial Fire features no shortage of shifting waves of sound, but also gritty electronics, martial drumming, and heavily distorted (though inobtrusive) spoken-word vocals. This combines into dense, windswept soundscapes with an ominous and otherworldly feel.
Not unlike his previous effort, Gospodinov has created an offering that has a remarkable amount of depth and detail that will support repeated listenings. The layered combination of synth and processed elements is compelling and has a singular appeal. Strong recommendation.