Album Review: Astronoid - Air
Back in April, I stumbled upon an article titled "The Black Market: The Month in Metal - April 2016."
I love lists like this, because there are usually a few undiscovered, non-radio played bands to find. Lately, I’ve been searching for doom/sludge, psychedelic, space or atmospheric metal. Yes these genres exist. No, you won’t hear them on the radio. Let’s talk about these later, okay?
I judge bands by their cover. Meaning, if your band has a cool font, or your album cover looks intriguing, I’ll give you a listen. It’s not an exact science, but it seems to work for me.
As I scrolled through this list, I found the typical odd bands and subgenres. A few were good, a few were… eh. Same ol’, same ol’. Then, in between the band Withered and Zealotry, I got to band number 8: Astronoid and their song ‘Air’.
I’m a sucker for all things space, so their name and first frame of the music video had me interested. It took me a minute to put aside my inner Beavis and Butthead, because, we all know that videos with words suck. But, damn. At about the 2 minute mark, I thought, “This is really, really different. And it’s really, really good. And I would have not liked this five or six years ago. Am I getting soft in my old age?”
It was none of that... just a song hitting me on a new level.
Michael Nelson with Stereogum wrote “Air feels like an album I’ve been waiting years to hear – an album I didn’t even know I was waiting for – and now that it’s arrived, I’m absolutely blown away.” And that’s spot on. I’ve played this album every day since it dropped in June. Not kidding… every day.
In an interview with the lead singer and bass player, they listed a number of albums that they couldn’t stop listening to during recording. Two that stood out to me were Agalloch’s The Mantle and Coheed & Cambria’s The Afterman. Trust me, these two bands are at opposite ends of the metal/rock spectrum.
Don’t bother with the negative reviews of Air… this is a metal album. It’s heavy, deep and meant to be played at a very high volume… with your windows down and going 90 miles per hour. Maybe what these purists don’t like is that it’s written in a major key and sung with clean – almost floating – lyrics, rather than a lot of down tuned minor chords complemented with Cookie Monster growls from the lead singer.
The harmonies shift a lot in Astronoid’s songs, and that’s evident in the songs ‘Resin’, ‘Homesick’ and ‘Trail of Sulfur’. It may start out sounding a little sad, and then shift to a happy, more uplifting riff. ‘Resin’ is an excellent example of these shifts, especially the first minute and 15 seconds. It’s refreshing, like taking an audio journey through a starlit meadow without a map.
This album leaves me wanting more. ‘Trail of Sulfur’ is the last song on the album, and this huge, furious, loud ending. The band could have added another bridge or verse, and come back to the same end, but I don’t think it’d leave me with the same feeling.