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Astrakhan - A Slow Ride Towards Death Award winner

A Slow Ride Towards Death
by Mike McMahan at 05 July 2021, 4:47 PM

ASTRAKHAN remains a bit of a mystery to me. There isn’t a lot of information out there concerning the band. What I have been able to ascertain is that they are from Stockholm, Sweden, have a very distinct Progressive Metal feel to them, are not to be confused with the Canadian band of the same name and, above all else, are an incredibly deep, moving and musically gifted band. Those are starting points. “A Slow Ride Towards Death” appears to be their fourth release, following last year’s live recording of “Superstar Experience”, which was recorded during their Scandinavian performances of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (certainly a diverse and ambitious undertaking, in and of itself, I would imagine). This record is filled with heady lyrical and musical imagery, leaving this listener stunned by almost every note presented. The album is, simply put, brilliant… and quite beautiful.

“Lonesome Cry” gets us started on this eight song, forty-five minute journey, and the tune immediately grabbed my ear. The lyric “So it all will end where it started/ Hollow rooms with plain white walls/ I’ll learn to follow order” which opens the song, is certainly an attention getter, and Alex Lycke’s vocal presentation SCREAMS David Bowie influence. There is a quiet, understated feel here, musically speaking, even at its most intense moments, and that feel lends itself splendidly to the lyrical content. The interlude that comes in around the three-minute mark is an incredible touch, as well. An extraordinarily theatrical and effective way to open an album.

“Take Me With You” has a distinctly more traditionally “Metal” sound about it, as does “What You Resist Shall Remain”, both tremendous songs in their own right. I hear so many influences within Lycke’s vocal style, and these two songs are great examples of exactly what I am talking about. There is a Geoff Tate“Rage For Order”-era, sound present on “Take Me With You”, while Ian Gillan’s very presence can be felt on the latter. I certainly mean no offense to Alex Lycke, and I am in no way suggesting thievery by these comparisons, but the influences I have suggested must exist.

The theatrical elements remain throughout the release, from the haunting “Youtopia” to the epic “M.E 2020”. The album left me with a myriad of emotional reactions and deep in thought, as all great art should; and that is exactly what “A Slow Ride Towards Death” is. Exactly.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Lonesome Cry
2. Take Me With You
3. What You Resist Will Remain
4. Never Let You Go
5. Youtopia
6. Until It Ends
7. Control
8. M.E 2020
Alex Lycke – Vocals
Per Schelander – Bass
Johan Hallgren – Guitar
Martin Larsson – Drums
Record Label: Melodic Passion Records


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