Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EP Review -Astralnaut - ' Back To The Bog'

Track Listing:  1.Back To The Bog, 2.Behold, 3.G.U.P.I, 4.Live For Nothing

Astralnaut are from Armagh in Northern Ireland, and are formed from the ashes of Oceanfall, Third Harvest and Stoned Messiah, and 'Back To The Bog is their debut EP.Describing themselves as 'hard rocking stoner blues', the band meld the aggression of old school doom outfits like St.Vitus and Trouble with classic rock elements and more progressive flourishes that, much like  fellow northerners Speedking , is a perfect marriage of songwriting nous and sheer brute force.

The opening title track sets out their stall perfectly, a bruising bluesy stomper with an uptempo central riff, with a pleasingly murky but still crisp guitar tone that lends the material on offer here a hint of darkness that many bands of a similar ilk lack .The production throughout is of a thoroughly high standard, allowing each instrument room to breath in the mix, with a warm, live feel that lends the EP a sense of intimacy , despite the crushing heaviness.

'G.U.P.I' is a  perfect distillation of the band's essence, a monolithic stoner number that makes The Sword sound like One Direction, such is it's sense of groove and weight, but with a brilliantly unexpected melodic detour , introduced by a clever sample and not a million miles away from Pink Floyd's earthier moments that showcases the band as not only clever, innovative songwriters, but also musicians of some considerable talent.Closer 'Live For Nothing' carries this further, veering  between red eyed doom rock and more inventive chord progressions a that recall , bizarrely , Opeth's earlier , more doom-centric records.

Overall, this is a deeply impressive debut from a band that can only continue to get better.In fact, our only gripe with it really is that isn't longer.(arse kissing you say?Nahhhhhh).The band clearly have a place in Ireland's small but ever more prevalent stoner/doom scene, as well as abroad, and hopefully a full length is on it's way.Top notch stuff.

For fans of : Orange Goblin, Horn Of The Rhino, Speedking, Two Tales Of Woe, Reverend Bizarre
Listen to/Buy it here: http://astralnaut.bandcamp.com/album/back-to-the-bog-ep
Stephen O ' Connor

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