Hidden Gems: Astronoid – Air (2016)
Genre: Post-metal / thrash metal / ambient / dream rock
Release date: 10th June, 2016
Record label: Blood Music
For fans of: Devin Townsend Project, Alcest, Ghost Bath
Powered by crunching riffs, quick pace and beautiful ambience in equal measure, the debut album by Bostonian quintet Astronoid, Air (2016), is a tragically under-heard gem of the now-burgeoning post-metal landscape. Diverse and gorgeous, it is one of the most precious yet rare kinds of heavy record: one that genuinely has the ability to appeal to every kind of music fan, metalhead or not.
Sure, the fast guitarwork of the shredding trio Mike DeMellia, Brett Boland and Casey Aylward wreak of the typically powerful metal approach, along with the similarly aggressive rhythms of bassist Daniel Schwartz and drummer Matt St. Jean. But, at the same time, every second of Air is drowning in melodies of the most addictive and dreamy kind that even the album’s most aggressive moments never threaten to become inaccessible. For example, Boland’s lead vocals sound directly inspired by synth-pop acts such as Angels & Airwaves and Owl City, and are harmonised so brilliantly that they resonate like an enchanting choir.
Astronoid also mixes in more than their fair share of more sombre passages, such as the building, percussion-led opening to “Obsession” and the clean guitars of “Violence”. The appropriately dream-like imagery of Boland’s lyrics also craft uplifting and personal, yet never-clichéd, movements, as the words “The unknown beginning to shine / The future is better than bright / A reason to all find out / The focus of all of our lives / Fixated on novas at night / A reason to all find out” ring out in the chorus of Air’s title track. Such enigmatic imagery perfectly fits the tone that Astronoid expertly crafts.
Truly, there’s something for everyone here. While metalheads will most likely find themselves very satisfied with the fast rhythms and guitars on Air, it is also drenched in the dulcet tones of dream rock and synth-pop, as well as a generally optimistic aura, that keeps it open to any and everyone. The record demonstrates the versatility of metal as a genre perfectly, proving that the style is far more than just petulance and mindless nihilism. And anything that gives metal a more open edge definitely deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.
Air is still available to download on Blood Music’s Bandcamp page.