It’s OK for heavy metal to make you feel good inside, to lift your spirits, to make you forget the bullshit for a little bit. Metal used to be escape music primarily, but that became a little less the case over the years as skepticism and cynicism became more involved, which is fine, because it’s great for this music to test societal expectation. But fuck, it’s OK to smile every now and again.
That takes us to Astronoid, a band that really sits alone in metallic circles because their energy is undeniable, and the power you can feel in your guts might make those who fear fun quiver in a corner. Whatever, man. Put on “Radiant Bloom,” the band’s third long player, and try not to feel your blood rushing through your veins, the adrenaline giving you a good experience and not one where you turn into a dick. It’s not like there’s not darkness here—planetary concerns, selfish humans, doubt—but it’s survivable and it’s something we all must face. The band—vocalist/guitarist/percussionist Brett Boland, guitarist Casey Aylward, bassist/synth player Daniel Schwartz, drummer Matt St. Jean—tease black metal, shoegaze, prog rock, and tons of other terrain that makes this record shake with life and fill every one of your cells with something that makes you feel half decent for once.
“Admin” starts in a synth cloud before the track bursts with life, the riffs pouring effusive emotion. Boland’s singing remains ridiculously helium-high, which is one of my favorite elements of the band. Energy builds higher, every element soars, and the tidal waving is dragged into the clouds. “Eyes” brings a melodic gust and Bolan calling, “I just feel so tired, I don’t feel well at all.” Guitars take off as the momentum hits a sweet spot as Boland wails, “With the lights down low, I don’t need to see the path,” as everything comes to a huge finish. “Sleep Whisper” has a punchy start with guitars crunching and heavy breeziness teasing. “See ya, this world, go away, hurts for me,” Boland blasts as everything comes to life and energy pulsates, lighting up your every cell. “Sedative” is anything but as it’s on a high right away, bringing power and force, feeling catchy and impossible to tie down. As things go on, the pace gets faster as your veins pump, ending in infectious blasts.
“I’ve Forgotten Your Face” brings distortion and synth interference, Boland calling, “Give me a sign that I’ll know, give me a sign I know I’ll recognize.” The track is immersive and emotional, letting things crash down around you and cure any drowsiness you may have. “Orchid” rips open and splashes colors across the sky as the singing swells, and the melodies turn monstrous. The high energy seems impossible to maintain, but they never waver, finally disappearing into a collecting fog. “Drown” delivers a forceful jolt but then pulls back some, Boland singing, “Don’t you so easily forget your reverence.” The tempo then kicks up, beams slash toward you, and the guitars jar some teeth loose, finally washing out in keys. “Human” has static and a mid-tempo push, still sweeping you up before the harder waves crash. There is a sense of sadness here as Boland sees the state of our globe and wails, “Oh my god what we’ve sown, poor world, oh my god what we’ve done to ourselves.” “Decades” closes the album, and it injects a sugary crash, pulsating and pushing, Boland jabbing, “Don’t need you now, it’s all for show, I need no one.” The pace never relents as the band spends its final minutes paving the way for heartfelt immersion, guitar glaze, and synth zaps that soar past planets and moons.
Astronoid really lean into what makes them special on “Radiant Bloom” as they never sounded more confident and sure of themselves, and that just makes these songs stickier. I’m not interested in debating where they belong as far as metal’s structure, because who the fuck cares when this band is making music this good? It fits where it fits, it fills your heart and mind with energy, and even in its darkest moments, you still feel like you can battle through even when hope is at its lowest.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/astronoidband
To buy the album, go here: https://store.astronoidband.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.3dotrecordings.com/