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Astrosaur – Portals

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 05 October 2022, 7:12 AM

From Bandcamp, “Somewhere between the late 1990s and the early 2010s, the riff largely disappeared from mainstream rock & pop. Its transformative power – the riff as a means to transport the listener into another dimension – became an art cherished only in the underground of rock and metal. One of the strong proponents of that transformative power is ASTROSAUR, an overlooked gem in the international heavy Psyche Rock and Post- Metal scene. The Norwegian power trio has been employing the riff as their principal mode of transport since their 2017 debut album. Now, with the release of their third album “Portals,” ASTROSAUR are sounding more expansive and convincing than ever, delivering an intuitive exploration of the infinite powered by soaring guitars and surging grooves.” The album contains five songs.

“Opening” is the first. Smooth, peaceful sounds open the song, leading to a heavy and ominous riff. Leads ring out above, with a solemn Post-Rock feeling in the music. “Black Hole Earth” is the next. Hasty and aggressive tones mark the beginning, and once the song begins to move, it moves with some dissonant tones in the riff bending, but also with some melodies. Although many of the tones are tense, the songwriting is complex, yet also accessible. It’s all about that atmosphere, and this song drips with it. Lick your fingers, and taste the drip.

“The Deluge” is, as the title suggests, a stormy song that features very weighted riffs that are down-tuned impossibly low. The distortion is fuzzy to give it a bit of an old school feeling. The melodies are a bit subtler here and calm, amidst the maelstrom of heavy rhythms. “Reptile Earth” sees the band flex their prowess a bit, with tight and fast-moving passages where the drummer hits the accents hard. The riff is again bent at times, but this song is both powerful and atmospheric. Towards the end, the accents whip up to a frenzied pace, but the band doesn’t miss a step.

The lengthy “Eternal Return” is the final cut; a 23-minute closing opus. Typically, you need to build a song of this length, but the band gets right down to business out of the starting gate, with more dissonant and punishing rhythms. Melodies begin to build, just tentative at first, but they grow into smooth melodies, while the bass and rhythm guitars hold down a thick bottom end. Towards the middle, the song settles into calm and soothing tones, like a warm blanket on a cold fall day. Of course, the heavy rhythms return, and they are so thick, they nearly blot out the sun. It begins a steady crescendo coming to a close, with many different elements melding together. The final sequence is both pretty and solemn, as your heartrate slows and you take a few deep breaths, with a smile on your face.

Instrumental music can be very hit or miss. Think about it. Without vocals, you just took away one of the main parts of music. So, you have to work twice as hard to fill that hole. ASTROSAUR work very hard in filling that void. Although much of the album is quite heavy, there are also fitting melodies that pour in the cracks for a more complete listening experience. Post-Rock, Psyche Rock, genre labels really don’t matter much. It’s a slab of original instrumental Metal that will get your blood flowing for sure.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Opening
2. Black Hole Earth
3. The Deluge
4. Reptile Empire
5. Eternal Return
Steinar Glas – Bass
Jonatan Eikum – Drums
Eirik Kråkenes – Guitar
Record Label: Pelagic Records


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