April 25, 2018 God Is An Astronaut – Epitaph (Album Review)
While practically all music fans enjoy getting lost in lyrics and having an anchor to hold close to their heart, it takes even a deeper love to grow close to strictly instrumental compositions. While instrumental music is often completely underrated, God Is An Astronaut are back with a brand new treasure chest of songs they like to call Epitaph.
A follow-up to 2015’s Helios / Erebus, God Is An Astronaut has been known to provide a chilling and exceptional listening experience. A talent they have mastered over the past 16 years, there is no exception when it comes to Epitaph, which is set to release Friday, April 27, 2018 via Napalm Records.
For those who are not all that familiar with the band, the Irish trio came to be back in 2002. Immediately gaining recognition following the release of their debut album, The End of the Beginning, the singles received airplay on European MTV, and ever since, God Is an Astronaut has consistently put out quality material. Currently comprised of the Kinsella brothers, Torsten (guitar, piano/synths) as well as Niels (bass), they are joined by Lloyd Hanney (drums) as they collectively worked together to craft their best work to date.
An emotional experience, filled with very personal feelings, the seven-track playlist of Epitaph begins with the longest track on the record at seven minutes and fifty-three seconds. The title-track, “Epitaph,” provides a ringing state of serenity, almost like whales calling through the deep ocean before gentle keys ease in. That in mind, while the keys are soft and sweet, the low tone emphasizes a haunting effect.
An epic opening, soon all sounds fade away into an alarming buzz, giving an illusion of bees swarming through the listener’s head. The buzzing intensifies just to where it is almost too much, and the breaking point collides with ambitious Rock music that is solidly parallel to Paramore’s “Future” outro. Building a sense of elegance, a few minutes later, the Rock elements fade back into the heavy bass and inspiring keys, growing character and filling the listener with glimmers of hope.
A hard act to follow, “Mortal Coil” comes off more edgy from the get-go; coarser synths and keys swirl around like a dust devil, and funky bass is hidden beneath these layers providing a sticky texture for the fine grains. About a minute in, drum movement flows in to give a new meaning to the tune. It is brought up lighter at first, then grows more edgy to a full-fledged Rock jam. Then, with a minute left until end time, a dramatic change of pace takes place with all but an acoustic guitar and small bass remaining; this provides a sweet and intimate ending to a complex track.
Changing it up yet again, the mellow and charming lullaby sound of “Winter Dusk/Awakening” will rock your eardrum gently. In fact, you can almost imagine it as the soundtrack to a game of Harvest Moon. Thereafter, “Seance Room” continues the theme of soft and rich tones. The soothing flow develops a concrete base-layer for the drums to rattle upon and a small maraca/egg-shaker can be detected in the background, which soon falls heavy in synths. Overall, the song fits well with the title, painting a vivid image without saying a word. While the end is almost overwhelming with a grunge layer, it simply vanishes into thin air, and all the listener is left with is the sound of their own breathing.
Moving on rather smoothly, a tape wheel unwinding is very faint in the introduction of “Komorebi,” where synths gather among the surface of a light and airy nature. A minute in, grand keys join for what is almost imagined as what would play along during a scene in a movie with a young child looking out a window with rainfall, or in a tearjerker scene where the plot just revealed the death of an important character.
Keeping a somber mood, synths automatically fill the white noise for “Medea,” and a cranking chime or winding gear sustains with vocals. This continues with some foreign/alien-like sounds (bloops and boings) until a dark tone morphs for the second half of the song. Last, but not least, “Oisín” begins with white noise in the first few seconds, then it feels as if a needle is placed on a record, and there are sweet charms that almost resembles Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love” both in tone as well as tune. A piece in memory of Torsten and Niels’ 7-year-old cousin, who was tragically taken from this world, it blossoms into a beautiful ballad before the grand finale finishes with the trance swinging into the downfall of the run. Simply put, it is peaceful ending to an astounding collection of sounds.
At first glance, the tracks can seem rather long compared to most albums. However, never will you hope for Epitaph to end. No, you probably will want to listen again and again. Why? Well, there are numerous elements and layers within each song that you are guaranteed to love and stay focused on. The contrast between different elements here is well-played and well-balanced, and, overall, the flow of the album exceeds any expectations. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives God Is An Astronaut’s Epitaph a 5 out of 5 stars.