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Astra - From Within (CD)

From Within
by Mike Novak at 10 February 2009, 9:50 AM

Italian band ASTRA originally started out as an instrumental band back in 2001. They went through a few lineup changes and added a singer; winning a DREAM THEATER band contest and performing with Jordan Rudess as a prize. Their debut was released in 2006, and after some touring, went back to record this follow-up, From Within.

When I see that a band is from Italy, I'm usually reluctant to give them a chance. Past experience has led me to the assumption that most Italian bands all sound the same, with their RHAPSODY-like over-the-top cheesy Power Metal. Thankfully, ASTRA strays from this, albeit only slightly. Besides the obligatory DREAM THEATER influence, there are hints of Italian Power metal, but also there are moments where they sound like STYX and QUEEN. This definitely works to their advantage. All of the instrumentalists of ASTRA are quite talented, and the interplay between the keyboards and guitars is enjoyable. Singer Titta Tani sounds at times like Ronnie James Dio, at other times Jorn Lande, although he never quite reaches the lofty level of either.

From Within includes an epic called Hypocrisy which has everything one would expect from a longer track, including some excellent work on guitar and keyboards by Silvio D'Onorio De Meo and Emanuele Casali, respectively. The ballad Never Say Goodbye is pretty run-of-the-mill, as is Over the Hills. The single Memories Remain is decent and can be listened to on the band's Myspace page. The Hitman was a surprise at the end, it hits harder than the other songs on here, and may be the best song on the album, aside from Hypocrisy.

Much of From Within, minus the aforementioned Hypocricy and The Hitman, suffers from a lack of consistency. A song might have a good solo section in the middle, but the rest of the song is terrible. There might be a good vocal performance, but instrumentally the songs are boring. This is how a large amount of the album is, which makes it difficult to sit through. Despite the quality of those two songs, there is nothing on here that is good enough to make me come back to this album and listen to it more than I have to.

Overall, ASTRA are a decent, if somewhat pedestrian Italian Metal band. The QUEEN and STYX influence separates them somewhat from some of their peers, and fans of RHAPSODY and other Italian Power Metal bands will most likely give this a higher grade than I would. If they can continue to develop their own sound and separate themselves from other bands of their ilk, I look forward to their output in the future.

2 Star Rating

Over The Hills
Promises you Made
Memories Remain
The Rage Behind
Save Another Day
Road to Nowhere
Simple Mind
The Hitman
Never Say Goodbye
Titta Tani - Vocals
Silvio D'Onorio De Meo - Guitar
Emanuele Casali - Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar
Andrea Casali - Bass
Filippo Berlini - Drums
Record Label: Lion Music


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