Review : Astra - The Black Chord
SputnikmusicThe way that Astra announces the arrival of The Black Chord – a subtly increasing wind, transforming into a vortex of intergalactic-sounding synthesizers, searing riffs, and earth-shattering drums – feels like a larger-than-life journey out of our atmosphere. As it transitions into a rapid drum/synthesizer interchange, it almost begins to feel a bit orthodox and (dare I say) cheesy. It’s almost as if Astra wants to convince us all of their technical prowess, in the process crafting something so unquestionably epic that it almost loses its appeal out of a sheer lack of restraint. Fortunately, as The Black Chord progresses, it proves to be worth the glamorous introduction. With amazing electric riffs swirling about cryptic vocals and challengingly progressive song structures, this record is any prog-rocker’s dream, and a captivating entry into the Astra’s very young discography.
The undeniable strong point of the album is its masterful execution. The instrumentation is ever so carefully arranged, yet never mechanical in the way it presents itself. Unfolding with grace and fervor, each track is a brilliant tour de force of metal and prog that is somehow able to concoct an extremely rich atmosphere while simultaneously lighting a rebellious fire in the heart of the listener. ‘Quake Meat’ is perhaps the best illustration of Astra’s many faces, opening with a complicated chord progression reminiscent of Yes or Pink Floyd, then delving into a wildly eclectic sea of sound that ranges from distorted 70’s retro vocals a la King Crimson circa 1969’s In The Court of the Crimson King to rapidly changing time signatures that might be found of any number of Tool or Dream Theater records. The album also is not without a quieter moment of reflection, which comes in the form of mid-album gem ‘Drift’ – a track that sounds almost tribal by nature but reflects the progressive atmosphere of an early Moody Blues record. Here, the vocals are the center of focus, but the slow, purposeful drum fills, subtle piano contributions, and acoustic guitars create a surrounding that is as rich as a metal-leaning ballad can be. Whether fast or slow, there isn’t a single moment that feels undercooked, and Astra balances tempo with the steady hand and vision of seasoned musicians....full text
TheprpAstra‘s “The Black Chord” is nothing short of a time capsule. A welcome blast of hashed out progressive psych rock that feels as though it came straight from the early 70′s.
Right from the start the band set about taking the listener on a blissful journey. One full of lush soundscapes, tripped out soloing, flutes, whirring organ-led space trucking and hypnosis-inducing melody.
It’s an adventure that would likely crash and burn if the band weren’t so instrumentally talented; but the lean nature of their playing meshes well with the grandiosity of their songwriting.
While their last full-length “The Weirding” did turn heads, “The Black Chord” proves it was mere flight preparations for the journey to come — that of course being this intoxicating retro-tinged voyage through the cosmos.
Full of enthralling peaks and valleys, smoldering riffs and enough weighty atmosphere to keep any Pink Floyd & Yes fan happy; “The Black Chord” just may be modern psych rock’s finest hour.
Whereas groups like Witchcraft and Graveyard have kept an earthen nature about them, Astra are truly an interstellar affair. Each song delivered drips pure artistry and engaging ascensive momentum. The instrumental interplay is euphorically dynamic and challenging, yet never gets in the way of the bigger picture....full text
Astra Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
Who do you like?