Many bands seek to create an atmosphere with their art; Astronoid has me lightheaded from breathing their air. The MA-based quartet is known for their brand of ambient metal, but their latest eponymous release carves ethereal melodics from distorted riffs and thundering drums.
Astronoid takes off like a rocket, launching with a swell of sustain and dizzying drum rolls that hold the listener in orbit until the last seconds of the record. The guitars burn bright in the mix, steering each composition with heavy chords punctuated by virtuosic solos. The rhythm section is absolutely airtight; the bass guitar’s punchy tone seats it perfectly within the kick drum as they back the palm mutes of the guitars. Brett Boland’s vocals are airy and earnest, layered throughout the mix like an otherworldly chorus.
For a metal record, there is a delightful focus on melodics present on Astronoid. Layers of dirty riffing and gaze-y guitar effects do nothing to overpower the oft-delicate vocals. Better yet, they create solid sonic foundations upon which Boland’s spritely voice can ride. Even the syncopated hits and time-signature changes fit snug against the melodies; the final chorus of “Breathe” fades beneath the quick guitar licks and accented chugs before the whole thing vanishes into the ether.
Astronoid’s nine tracks all feature celestial soundscapes, and these are what makes Astronoid so immense and immersive. The entire spread of the mix is filled with consonant textures. Instruments drip with reverb and delay, creating a sea of sound for the listener to drift through. Even the album art reflects this space—the encircled letters spelling the act’s name act like portholes in a vessel, pinpoints to peer at a strange and beauteous landscape of color and tone.
The composition of Astronoid is meticulous—there is not a hint of sloppiness in any performance, and every second of instrumentation is delivered with aggressive energy. Thus, it is a little surprising to find somewhat lackluster lyrics guiding those heady vocal melodies. Much of the writing feels like filler; lines like “I know I’m not / I said I was before” from “Water” don’t really impart much meaning. A few are just straight vapid: “Victim of another year / I don’t know who shed a tear / I remember dear” seems written just to complete a rhyme, and not a very exciting one at that.
While such uninspired writing would normally detract from the experience of a record for me, in Astronoid’s case, it almost seems appropriate; the lack of thick substance to the words allows the flawless composition to absorb my attention. And for what it’s worth, the lyrics are replete with simple yet effective images that mirror the record’s fae-like quality: phrases like “The song under the lights” or “You’re facing other skies,” delivered with Boland’s smooth cadence, land like faded memories in the mind, fragments of dream that feel poignant because they are strong enough to be remembered at all.
The lyrics might lack tangible substance, but even so, Astronoid’s self-titled record is certainly a realm worth exploring. The band integrates dazzling color and rich atmosphere into each tune, all without sacrificing any of the aggression that is so pivotal to the genre of metal. So whether you’ve come for headbanging riffs, expansive compositions, or astral vocal melodies, Astronoid’s blended high-energy technical metal and elysian soundscaping will keep you locked in and listening.
My Top Track: “Fault”
Astronoid is out via Finland’s Blood Music; you can grab physical and digital copies from the Blood Music Bandcamp page, as well as their previous release Air.