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Astral Oceans – Vacant Systems

Astral Oceans
Vacant Systems
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 25 April 2021, 9:27 AM

A darker, heavier approach to instrumental prog metal than previous releases, “Vacant Systems” showcases a more experimental side of ASTRAL OCEANS. From Atmospheric Traditional Folk to high gain, extended range grooves, the compact EP takes listeners to a darker corner of the cosmos. The EP contains four tracks.

“Iron Dunes” it the opening track. It begins with soft, melancholy clean guitars, with a little bit of a Middle Eastern flair. Some layering begins in the guitars along with some light hand percussion. The meter shifts until a heavy guitar riff is laid down with audible bass notes. Some keys come into play and then it rolls to completion. “Chlorate Dust” begins with a twangy bass guitar and some clean guitars. A distorted riff rolls in. It has a darker sound overall. Choppy guitars and legato bass notes take it from there. The way David plays with the meter is impressive, but it’s hard to find a central theme in the music.

“Frozen Volatiles” is a shorter song, featuring those same choppy rhythms. This time, a central theme does emerge. Much of the sound drops around the half-way mark, then returns to the choppy rhythms. “Ceres” closes the EP. It begins with keyboard notes. Ceres is of course the smallest dwarf planet in our galaxy. The keys begin to layer as the drums come in. A distorted guitar joins, along with bass. The meter shifts around the half-way mark, as a new sound develops. Choppy rhythms return towards the end, along with more keyboard notes.

It’s hard to judge an album based on just four tracks, but I feel like I got a sense of what David was trying to do here. I have to say, I find the bass work the best part of the album…and instrument that is often drowned out in Metal. Choppy guitar work dominated the album, and he’s a talented guy for sure. This was good, but let’s hope that he can build on what he has here for a future release.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Iron Dunes
2. Chlorate Dust
3. Frozen Volatiles
4. Ceres
David Bailey – Guitars, Fretless Bass, Keyboards/Synths, Programming, Hand Percussion
Record Label: Independent


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