God Is An Astronaut: Helios/Erebus (Revive)
Comparisons to other bands will never be my strong suit as I will probably get targeted by my peers in the same way that William Tell allegedly shoots apples off heads. With that in mind, I now turn to visit the eighth release from this quartet from Glen of Downs in Ireland (at the time of writing I am now making my way through the rest of their back catalogue). Like all instrumental music, especially if it’s the likes of ambient rock it will always have elements of progression there to keep up the listening experience, at times you get so encapsulated you forget which track you’re on until you actually hear the mood of the track change. It’s psychedelic and ambivalent, meets prog and hard rock. I have to be honest it has been so difficult to describe these pieces of music and can only imagine that it could have a psychedelic light show if played in its entirety live.
Second track Pig Powder kicks off as a slow rock track led by Torsten’s guitar playing. Third track Vetus Memoria is a piano led track often switching between piano and synth with some superb jazz influenced style drumming supported by some great guitar riffs and solo’s in-between before closing with a hard rocky finish and ambivalent sound to end, should definitely be a live staple to please newcomers and long term fans of the band alike. A very hard and rocky track with ambience at the very end to settle the brief head nodding. Finem Solis continues the slow and soft keyboard theme with a little bit of static to give a white noise effect halfway through the song before ending the closing minutes with a slow classical arrangement coming from said piano, personally I feel this to be the weakest track on the album.
Title track Helios/Erebus (also the longest track at 8 and a half minutes) gives a slight acoustic feel to the album as if the guitar is speaking to you, however this doesn't last long as the power chords kick in along with the rest of the band, the keyboard blares to life and you feel an awe of electricity around you and can probably picture what I can only imagine would be a volcano tripping out at a light show, definitely should be another live staple. Obscura Somina, is a very similar track to aforementioned Finem Solis, however what makes it stand out to said track is a slow acoustic part accompanying the keyboard before fading out to let keyboard and classical once again take over to finish off before (and I won’t pardon the pun) fade into obscurity.
The track Centralia seems to have inherited a more swaying sound that sums up the majority of this track, after another slow piano arrangement and steady drum intro, the track then starts it starts to edge towards the closing two minutes when they take on a rock but jazzy drum take that has so infamously been adopted from other groups before. A strangely relaxing but funky bass track that your average d-jent band would be proud of, these closing moments shouldn't be mixed together...... yet somehow it does actually work on this album. Final track Sea Of Trees starts with a harrowingly haunting piano solo, before another acoustic solo then accompanies it, and then a beautiful medley follows from the entire group begins just before the 2 minute mark and it follows on suit from there. Torsten Kisella plays a brief but electric solo before letting Jamie Dean give another take over on the keys again with the effects of a haunting choir in the background as well before bringing the album to an abrupt finish.
The only small niggle I have with the album is that each track does literally start each album and can almost tempt you to fall asleep before the rest of the band kick in but credit where it is due it does set the tone of the album almost flawlessly. Ambience seems to be my favourite word for this particular debut review, but however since I don’t have my pet Thesaurus with me at this very moment I seriously cannot describe the audio experience I get from this album. Each track seem to tell a separate story in their own right having an ambient setting created by Jamie Dean (their most recent addition to the group) on keyboard and piano and has a clear classical influence, and then there are the hard rock and prog moments that is all set up by brothers Torsten on guitar, and Niels Kisella on the bass with a great performance by Lloyd Hanney on the sticks and skins. Clocking in at 45 minutes, this is going to be a very strong contender on my list of albums of the year, and a band I would very much like to see on the UK live circuit.
Authors Note: Perhaps using an instrumental album wasn’t the best example to start with, but having given this album so many listens in the last few days I couldn’t help but feel inspired to write about it despite my lack of extended vocabulary and thesaurus by side, however I do hope these words will give me a better critique of albums good and bad in the near future....... Here endeth the Venomous Rant.