Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Fuzzed up, down-tuned and spaced out Astralnaut gaze to the Gods

NORTHERN Ireland's a breeding ground for all sorts of hard rock and heavy metal, something we should glory in...and with Astralnaut we have a band that stretch the boundaries of the normal rock/metal archetype.

With a line-up change that sees JonJoe - formerly of the Double Wide - take over bass duties from Damos, now is as good a time as any to look back at their release In The Gaze of the Gods.

Make no mistake Astralnaut make many so-called international stoner bands look as if they are poseurs of the worst kind.

With a support slot lined-up with Red Fang ahead of extensive dates in Northern Ireland and beyond those that dare will enter the fuzzed up, down-tuned and spaced out Astralnaut world.

Here we find the Emerald Lord of Pleasure stepped up a pace from opener Arab Spring, but no less the epitome of where melody lurks brooding in the heart of darkness - a plea for escape but with a whisper to stay put in this world of weirdness.

While Thomas Mallon regales listeners, Gaz Treanor somehow tortures sounds out of the guitar that is almost onomatopoeic to the cries of being "stoned to the end".

We're all Hallions - that peculiar Northern Ireland phrase about behaviours - and The Hallion sees the tone down and the rhythm slower as Stephen Todd and Pearse Donnelly anchor the sound down for the casual listener to feel they have been nailed on to an aural horror-scape.

By the time you take The Oath and get into the Urban Brawl there is enough evidence that Sabbath and a variety of later acolytes have a lot to answer for when music like that of Astralnaut hits the decks.

That is not to say that this is easy listening - there is a platter of distorted riffs and solos that require the listener to engage: stay aloof and you'll just not get the Astralnaut groove.

While this five-tracker was recorded with Damos on bass duties there is enough evidence that JonJoe can take his Double Wide experience to add another dimension to the Astralnaut journey through space and time.

Yet again we have a local band that has stretched the boundaries of a genre, and In The Gaze of Gods is a firm foundation. As to those gazing gods? Well they can get down or get out when Astralnaut are laying down their sound - the weak need not apply.

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