God Is An Astronaut

Helios | Erebus

Written by: LF on 18/09/2015 17:01:46

A couple of months back, the self-styled space-rock group God Is An Astronaut released "Helios | Erebus", their eighth album. It's a relatively diverse post-rock record as the band deliver their usual strong and memorable guitar and keyboard riffs while exploring both towering and majestic expressions as well as calm, almost ambient pieces and swiveling, light-footed rhythms. This band is great at building entire worlds into their music, connecting with the 'space rock' term especially as every song here communicates incredible vastness as well as a sense of curious world exploration and bold interstellar drama that makes you feel exactly how small a human being is on the scale of the entire universe.

Spanning eight tracks and forty-five minutes, it's obvious that every song really gets the time it needs to build up its atmosphere, but that doesn't mean that they all start up slowly nor that they all follow the same curve of intensity. Some songs change character suddenly like one of my favorites here, "Pig Powder". It starts by building a balanced, calm and floating space around the listener before introducing some very sharp notes that introduces a heavier and almost dissonant element that eerily disturbs the peace before integrating itself masterfully with the previous floating atmosphere to form an expression that holds an alluring tension before fading into ominous ambience. "Vetus Memoria" uses a similar effect but in a different build-up. Here front man Torsten Kinsella's dreamy, choir-like vocals also deserve a mention as they play a role in the transition. While the band include vocals in their sound, I still think of them as an instrumental band mainly because these vocals are mostly used to add to the number of layers in the band's music instead of to provide a hook or an extra melody.

The introductory "Agneya" is another stand-out track here as it features one of the most memorable riffs of the album. As soon as the drums get going, they seem to be an unstoppable force that rolls every other instrument forward with ever-rising intensity. It manages like several other songs here to surprise the listener when the guitars suddenly pick themselves up in the middle of the song with a fervour that launches at everything within reach. In general, the band impress the most when the instruments sound wild and powerful as on these mentioned tracks. The opus that makes up the title track "Helios | Erebus" manages to include both this wild, insisting element and the more ambient side of the band, as well as the most noticeable vocal contribution of the record, to great effect during its eight minutes. The ambient tracks "Finem Solis" and "Obscura Somnia" that surround it are not noticeable in the same way as the other tracks here but they find their use in the structuring of the record and help set an atmosphere for the higher-striving songs to build on.

After this, the two last songs of the album come across as more anonymous than the rest as their riffs are simply more monotone. God Is An Astronaut have thus released a fairly solid but not absolutely impressive post-rock record this year, but even though it doesn't sweep me off my feet, it's still a good and fairly well-composed listen. Arguably, the wild outbursts of energy that their songs consists of work even more directly in the physicality of a live setting but the way they communicate emotions, there's also a lot to be gained from dreaming away in their soundscapes, encased in your headphones at home.

Download: Agneya, Helios | Erebus, Pig Powder
For The Fans Of: Maybeshewill, This Will Destroy You, Sleepmakeswaves, Mogwai
Listen: facebook.com/godiaa

Release date 21.06.2015
Revive Records

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