Astronoid – ‘Astronoid’

By Liam Knowles

Astronoid’s debut album ‘Air’ was one of most compelling records of 2016. It flew under a few radars in what was a very busy release year, but it was a solid debut with a plethora of influences trying their best to unite and form a coherent sound. When your band draws comparisons to Saosin and Deafheaven in the same breath, you know you’re on to something interesting – but, whilst excellent, ‘Air’ just wasn’t as quite as consistent as it was ambitious. With their self-titled sophomore record, Astronoid have dropped the blast beats and focused their sound into something with a much clearer sense of direction, mixing progressive post-metal with pop sensibilities to tremendous effect.

‘A New Colour’ opens things up with triumphant guitar patterns as the drums hurtle towards a false crescendo, pulling right back at the last second and allowing Brett Boland’s ethereal vocal to glide into place. The way the vocals juxtapose against the musical backdrop is the key to what makes Astronoid so interesting – there really is no-one else that sounds like them. There may well be other bands who are heavy musically with high-pitched vocals, like Coheed & Cambria or Leprous, but Astronoid manage to be heavier than those bands whilst also somehow being more accessible. The chorus to ‘I Dream In Lines’, for example, could have been a pop punk chorus if not for the punishing riffs that surround it. It shouldn’t work, but it really does.

The strongest tracks on the album, though, are the ones where the contrast between the two elements are less stark. ‘Fault’ is ushered into play by subtle palm muting and cyclical drums, gradually building musical and vocal layers before breaking out into a guitar solo Claudio Sanchez would be proud of. Perhaps the highlight of the album is ‘Lost’, which allows Brett Boland to be more experimental vocally, sitting back in a ghostlier timbre than usual. This track is basically what Mew would sound like if they were a metal band, which again is something that shouldn’t work, but Astronoid find a way to pull it off.

It’s only January but already the bar for 2019 has been set high. This album is a slow burner, and multiple listens are recommended to pick out and digest all the nuance, but it’s truly an impressive record from a band who are bound to go on to bigger things.

LIAM KNOWLES

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