For all the directions and manner of subject matter that Metal music conveys, for a record to be purely joyous and sincerely uplifting, not simply fun or adrenaline pumping, is a rarity. It is this feeling that Boston, Massachusetts’ own Astronoid tap in to. Their debut effort Air came from out of nowhere and made waves in some circles, whilst criminally going unnoticed by many others, with a sound entirely of their own. Where Air was an excellent and unique debut, their self-titled (both Blood Music) follow-up is Astronoid refining and fully realising who they are.
Having forged a sound that equally draws upon often blistering Black Metal with huge post-Rock atmospherics and melodies and with sounding inimitable, the second time around, whilst not being a huge departure, the band has made some adjustments. The Black Metal aspect has virtually gone, save for the pacey drumming that regularly underpins the songs. This is not as huge a change as it sounds, as it is in the melodies and the vocals where Astronoid really comes into its own.
Album opener ‘A New Colour’ almost entirely sheds any signs of Metal and feels more pop-Punk adjacent, if played by the likes of Lantlos. The likes of ‘I Dream In Lines’ and ‘I Wish I Was There While The Sun Set’ ramp up the heaviness more with thrashy riffing, all whilst still married to a Shoegazing soundscape. ‘Breathe’ has a guitar tone that feels reminiscent of Swedish Melodic Death Metal and Killswitch Engage.
Whilst there are parts and aspects that can be picked out here and there, on the whole Astronoid is still a sound that is their own both in execution and its tone. It is one that also feels genuinely happy, poignant and elevating, like a combination of Hopesfall and Epicloud (InsideOut) era Devin Townsend, and will thus surely not fail to bring even the most hardened of souls to smiles.
Much is made of how innovation and new sounds in music are few and far between, which anyone who digs even a little will know is simply not true, and Astronoid are firm proof. Whilst their debut was a brilliant surprise and highlight at the time, somehow they have managed to top it, and convincingly so, and as a result have produced a most heartening and rewarding album.
Astronoid is a completely essential release from one of the most exciting and genuinely ground-breaking new bands in a long time.
9 / 10