Astronaut Down

Moths To The Flame

Written by: PP on 03/02/2011 05:55:37

Astronaut Down is a progressive rock band from New York, but not in the "look at me I can play guitar like a fucking wizard" or even the "check this phenomenal arrangement of soundscapes we've layered on top of each other" sort of way. Instead of resorting into prolonged sections of instrumental mastery - an approach certainly rewarding for each band member - while boring the listener to death, they've chosen a different route on their sophomore album "Moths To The Flame", one that's both accessible and challenging at the same time.

There's no obvious comparison to the alternative-meets-progressive rock of Astronaut Down, but it is clear that the band are taking their cues and inspiration from artists like Thrice and dredg. This is apparent in the rich and extremely structured manner in which the songs are constructed. There's often meticulous attention to detail, evident in beautiful atmospheric guitars that crash and soar into epic proportions, only to quiet down moments later to make space for the vocals. While the pipes offered here are no match to Dustin Kensrue, the singer is still very good, using a variety of styles ranging from quiet whispers to throaty screaming when appropriate. The songs all have a vocal climax, a moment of breathtaking beauty in common, but the way it is reached is significantly different from song to song. Some tracks are heavy and underline the word powerful in progressive rock, such as "Starfall", while others are near-acoustic, using silence as an effective weapon to power up some serious quiet/loud dynamics. Both ways are equally enjoyable, and provide refreshing variety throughout the disc.

All of this is happening whilst the structures and soundscapes are kept at a reasonably accessible level. The melodies have just enough pop integrated to make them stick, although it often takes more than just a few listens before they start sinking into the listener. This speaks volumes about the perfect balance between challenging music and accessibility that Astronaut Down carefully manage to enable a successful sound. Though complex by its nature, you don't need to be a rocket scientist or have the patience of a saint to figure out what's going on (*cough*DreamTheater*cough*) in the overall picture. Once you begin to notice the strength of the melodies present and how much attention has been paid to the miniscule details that have a major effect on the overall sound, you too will nod your head in acceptance to Astronaut Down. There's still some way to go to Thrice's magnificence, but they're starting to be very close.


Download: Starfall
For the fans of: Thrice, dredg
Listen: Myspace

Release date 2010

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