Thursday, July 7, 2016

Astronoid - Air (2016)

There is no secret that one of my favourite albums of all time are the Devin Townsend release "Ocean Machine: Biomech", a cleansing album that was the Yin to the Strapping Young Lad Yang. Ever since its release, there has been no album that has even come close to the emotions that this album brought out, while also maintaining the genius musicality that was contained inside of it. However, I think I might have found the spiritual successor to "Ocean Machine", and it comes from a completely new band.

Astronoid started out in Boston, Massachusetts in 2012 when vocalist/guitarist Brett Boland and bassist Daniel Schwartz recorded 2 songs for a school project, a EP that would be named "November". They put up those two songs on bandcamp, and before they even knew it, they were the talk of the metal underground, gaining a lot of recognition in a short amount of time. They eventually released a second EP called "Stargazer" in 2013, recruiting guitarist Casey Aylward and drummer Matt St. Jean in the process. A third guitarist, St. Jean's cousin Mike DeMelia, was later added for the live shows, bringing a whole new dynamic to the music. Now, three years later, they stand here with their full length debut entitled "Air".

Astronoid can easily be placed in the genre shoegaze (or as some call it, hipster black metal), but placing these guys in a genre would not do them justice. Instead, one should look at their influences to get a better grip of who they really are. Some influences are Mew, Cynic, Enslaved, Ihsahn, Alcest, and of course, Devin Townsend. A big bowl of different styles for sure, but they are all connected to each other in some way or another, so it is no wonder why Astronoid has evolved to what they are now.

Now, let us get into "Air" itself, and back to the "Ocean Machine: Biomech" comparison. Both albums starts off with a slow, but still chunky song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. But is is the second, more joyful song that blows you out of the water in both albums. "Up And Atom" might be taken from Radioactive Man's catch phrase, but it  contains a fantastic opening riff that sets the rest of the instruments off in a crazy, but still very controlled way. It is unreal to listen to it, it is so heavy, yet so light, and it is a feeling that runs through "Air". The album is filled with blast beats and frantic riffs, but the band manages to keep it all down to Earth. The perfect example of this is on "Resin", where the complete insanity is mixed with the beautiful vocals of Brett Boland, creating a dream like state that is just magical.

The performance is most certainly spectacular, but it is in a quiet way, never taking away too much from the music itself. There is some really technical pieces here and there, but they really do not stand out as much as it normally would, and I am loving it. The band wants the music to be in the center of attention, mediate strong emotions, not show off their skill set on humongous solos. This naked style is refreshing, giving the experience so much life. And for those wondering, yes, there are solos on this record, but they are not forced in, they instead add to the music, just like a solo should do.

It should also come as no surprise to you that this album is best experienced in one full sitting. Yes, each song are fantastic, some of my favourites being "Resin", "Tin Foil Hats", "Up And Atom", and the title track, but I can almost guarantee you that the high will be so much greater if you go through with it, taking all 50 minutes of music into you. It just feels so accomplishing to take in "Air" and all its beautiful heaviness. That is also the only real complaint I have about the album, 50 minutes is for sure a fair length for an album, but I want more. I cannot stop here, I must have more, more, MORE! Jesus, I have to admit, this is pretty addictive, can somebody give me a "Air" patch so we can close out this review?

2016 has turned out to be an amazing year, especially for newer artists out there. I was sure that no other newcomer would come and knock off King Goat's "Conduit" or Sunburst's "Fragments of Creation", but Astronoid squeezes in to create a holy triforce of rookie goodness. "Air" is an amazing album, blending heavy beats and riffs with epic emotions, creating a entity that is so easy to take in, and even easier to love. I am so happy that someone finally have made that spiritual successor to "Ocean Machine: Biomech" that I have been dreaming about for years, and the best part is that these guys are not done yet. If they keep this up, they will have a long and successful career ahead of themselves. Thank you so much for this Astronoid, I look forward to see what you guys will come up with next.

Songs worthy of recognition: Every god damn song

Rating: 10/10 Tin Foil Hats

Now, go check out the band on the following sites. What are you waiting for? DO IT NOW!

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