Astronaut Down - God's Eye
The different shades of progressive music are under discussion aplenty around the forums, and it's always difficult to pin down how some bands define themselves as such. Lucky for me and for progressive fans far and wide, Astronaut Down are as easily understood as any band in their neighborhood. Their style of rock is one that pays tribute to many a legend (Rush, King Crimson and legends-in-making Coheed and Cambria in particular) while also showing where it comes from with a real modern edge.
God's Eye is their debut, and it's quite a daunting listen for a number of listens. The music is nothing but enjoyable progressive hard-rock, not so much in the classic vein of jazz and blues-influenced rockers, but more symphonically arranged and orchestrated, more classically influenced. The guitars are always the highlight, picking through complex riffs and strenuous leads that portray various emotional states. The rhythm section is tight but rarely as flashy as the lead section. Vocals, on the other hand, are a whole different beast...truly the downfall of an otherwise fantastic album. The vocalist lends most of his best to the softer and more mellow tracks, while he sounds strained and underprepared for the heavier tracks. This makes the instrumental sections of the album stand out the most.
At nearly 70 minutes, God's Eye (which is actually a concept album with a story you can read along with featured on their official site) is, like mentioned, a daunting listen. It can be a challenge to sit through the entire album with it's slight but noticable flaws, but don't let that stop you from enjoying some of the better progressive rock music to filter through my ears in some time. It's worth owning just for the glorious and awe-inspiring jaunt called "The Testing", and that's the song to start at if you're interested in Astronaut Down. I'd like to see what they do next, if they attend to the flaws or simply do more to cover them up.
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