For the twenty-year anniversary of their debut album The End Of The Beginning, post-rock wizards God Is An Astronaut have revamped the record in a live studio setting, reversing the title to The Beginning Of The End (Napalm Records). The new recordings polish the songs up, flashing the band’s growth in musicianship while staying true to the original song structures. The improved production and performance have each instrument sounding more well-balanced, enhancing every melody and soundscape to a more cinematic level, revealing their fullest potentials.
Opening with the lo-fi radio static of ‘The End Of The Beginning’, the starting guitars sound like they’re being played from a far-off distance at the top of a mountain. These two facets induce the feeling of being in a remote land isolated from humankind. Once the full band kicks in with conversing guitar melodies and pulsing drums, the apocalyptic nature of the song brings sense to its title – one cleverly named after a quote by Winston Churchill during World War II.
For many God Is An Astronaut tracks, all it takes is one guitar riff or keyboard melody to tell a story – and that is what makes their creative masterminds so evident. They take one idea and transform it in several different ways, like planting a seed and watching how their sonic tree naturally grows its own branches that stick out in numerous directions. They do this all with the perfect amount of repetition and progression, strategically remolding phrases like clay without getting boring or predictable.
Songs like ‘Point Pleasant’ and ‘Twilight’ demonstrate how the band are pros at making simple soundscapes so melodic and immersive. They’ve always had the songwriting skills, but their execution has been perfected in the new live versions.
Once you get lost in all the atmospheric tones, the softer passages will either have your mind drifting into a calm oblivion or shaking with anticipation for the storming guitar distortion that frequently comes and goes. Other tracks like ‘Ascend To Oblivion’ and ‘Fall From The Stars’ show their significant improvement in blending keyboards and guitars in such a way that creates unique ethereal textures rather than each instrument sounding separate.
While newly written music is key in showing a band’s evolution, there is something about reworking the classics that proves their artistic sincerity. The Beginning Of The End honors who they were from their dawning as a group, cherishing their start while refining it to the quality it always deserved.
For the ultimate otherworldly experience, play this one in quiet nature or on a long drive at night.
8 / 10