Astral - Forever After
With touches of 80s shoegaze precursors like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Cure as musical markers, Astral carve their own path in dramatic, atmospheric , occasionally noisy pop. "Forever After" surges with swirling Floyd-y guitar and chunky bass, and swoons with smooth vocals.
The project is the brainchild of guitarist/Singer Dave Han, who also produced this. He wrote all the lyrics, but in an interesting twist, the guest stars on the record also wrote the music for the songs they play on and, in some cases, also engineer. Still, the sound is distinct throughout, so the message is Han's, no matter who is behind the controls or occasional keyboard.
The strongest tracks are those built off of a driving, cascading guitar. While guest Paul Skibitzke 's music for "Narcissus" and " Until The Day" is essentially from the same riff, it is one heavy, psych-ridden riff. "Fall Away," written and scored by Han, is crunchy, Teardrop Explodes-like: soaring, snotty and abrasive. Not more abrasive than "Walk and Talk" and "Eye to Eye," though, which maintain a crazed fuzzy wash throughout, in truly juicy, sheet of sound fashion.
Han's lyrics, for the most part buried in the mix, seem beside the point. They are delivered in passionate, dreamy tones, and provide more of a deepening of the melody than stand on their own. No matter. "Forever After," limited to only 300 copies, is a solid, powerful record with no weak songs among its ten. Astral lives up to its name and its record title; Han and company make lasting impressions with their cosmic explorations.
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