9 October 2015
God Is An Astronaut - Helios|Erebus
From Wikipedia - Helios - (/ˈhiːli.ɒs/; Ancient Greek: Ἥλιος Hēlios; Latinized as Helius; Ἠέλιος in Homeric Greek) was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology.: Erebus - In Greek mythology, Erebus /ˈɛrəbəs/, also Erebos (Greek: Ἔρεβος, "deep darkness, shadow"), was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos. These are the means behind the two names of this album. It has been two years since God Is An Astronaut released their last album 'Origins' (our review cleverly (or not so cleverly) linked here onto the great unwashed. As an album, I was a little disappointed by it; but not to the point of no return. It had its moments but it did not feel like a finished article to me. The brothers from Glen of the Downs, County Wicklow and their merry crew released this album in June 2015 and if I am honest, I have kept away from it. Not because I have fell out with the band's style of music or that I got any negative back lash from my review. I have just been very wary of this release, it might be another work of genius or it might not float my boat. But I have also been looking forward to this one as well, the cover art alone is worth buying the album. However, this does not make the album - the music does, so let us find out what the music sounds like.....
Starting the album is "Agneya" with a bit more metal added to the mix on this number, you still have the bountiful amounts of hypnotic shoegazer guitar sound yet it is mixed in with a hard and fast number to open this album with an energy that was missing from 'Origins'. It sounds very dramatic and after further repeated listens, it keeps on giving to the audience - a very good opening track. "Pig Powder" is the second track which is brought forth from the dark void that seems to be swirling around these songs. It has a gentler opening that drifts between the guitarists and when the band join in, it is within these quite moments that the band sound as if they are pausing for breath. This turns out to be accurate as they do hit the distortion peddle after some chiming guitars herald the change in mood around the two minute, forty mark. It has a meaty, menace to the riff and it stomps around like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. It then goes back to the gentler, void swirling noise and you hear a faint heart beat in the background as the sound slowly dissipates. "Vetus Memoria" is the next track which comes out of the shadows, once again it relies on the dynamics between their heavier moments and gentle sounds. It is a good mix of hypnotic moments that can uplift the soul and let you reflect on previous experience/future hopes, whilst also having moments where it bounces to a heavier tune. Overall, it is a great song that mixes all aspects of the band and hides any weakness that they have. The halfway point is marked by "Finem Solis" which is an atmospheric drift through the void between notes, the spaces where songs can give you chills and memories are awoken from deep slumber. It may not grab you in the way "Agneya" or "Vetus Memoria" do, but it is a needed break from that side of the band and ends the first half of this album on a beautiful note.
The second half of the album starts with the title track "Helios|Erebus", coming out of the cold with the atmospheric guitar sound that is the signature of God Is An Astronaut. Progressive in nature and delivery, it builds up in a way which only comes from this type of music; slow, ensured and laden with purpose, it is a song of high emotions and drama. It is a worthy title track and one of the best I have heard from God Is An Astronaut. "Obscura Somnia" comes out of the echoes of "Helios|Erebus", but it rides on a gentle wind compared to the drama of its predecessor. It is a wonderful counterpart to the eruption of emotions of the previous song and has a reflective nature and its heart. It is strong as the gale and as light as a breeze on a summer’s day. The penultimate song of this record is called "Centralia" which combines both the light and the dark elements of this album with impeccable timing. It is the track on the album that I have found hardest to relate to, it is well played (as is everything else on this album); the issue I have is that the light and dark are two obvious here, it seems that it is too clear where the lines are drawn on this one. It is still a very good song and fits well in the album, it just does not settle in my mind but with that being said the song has improved with repeated listens. "Sea of Trees" is the final song on this album, this track is a fine example of progressive post-metal completed at its best. There is some vocals thrown in which sounds like echoes in the wind, it is a beautiful song that completes this album with a tried and tested uplifting song to send the audience on their way happy.
This is a vast improvement from God Is An Astronaut, something truly original and worthy of their earlier records. This album has a real sense of purpose to this record that was missing on 'Origins', it feels as if a hunger has returned to them and that hunger makes all the difference here. If you are a fan of the band, you will find everything you love of the band and much more besides. If you are new to their work, you will find a great post rock album for 2015 – never have a title to an album been so apt.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart
Top track - Helios|Erebus
You can purchase Helios|Erebus from Amazon here
You can visit the God Is An Astronaut Bandcamp/Webpage here - you can also purchase the album on this site as well
You can follow their activities on Facebook here
You can stream Helios|Erebus on Spotify here
You can stream Helios|Erebus on Deezer here
You can stream Helios|Erebus on Tidal here
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