My goodness, what an excellent album. I have been incredibly busy with all of the great music coming my way, but I felt it was necessary to make time for Air. You may have already caught some coverage of the album, as it has been making the rounds, but in case you haven't I just needed to be sure. Astronoid is a band from Finland, and much like Coheed and Cambria their sound is not precisely metal, but there are enough elements to the music to warrant it being featured here.
A little note on nomenclature here. This is not the band's fault, or a genre elitist's rant, but rather giving credit where it is due. People seem to be dumbing Air in with the recent explosions of post-rock that continue to swell and expand. Yes, there are some blastbeats, but beyond that, there is nothing black metal about this album. What people seem to be forgetting is that post-black really originates from the fusion of black metal elements (usually the vocals, but sometimes other aspects) with post-rock, post-metal, and/or post-hardcore. That's where the "post" comes from. With that said, Air is very much a post-rock album that is influenced by the same bands that helped spur the genre, not the other way around.
This is important primarily because there is a band from these less metal territories that many may not be aware of, but seems to have the strongest impact on Astronoid's particular sound. The band is Mew from Denmark. They never really took off here in the states, but there are pockets of those in the indie rock community that recognize them as one of the best in the genre. One listen to the classic Frengers or more progressive And The Glass Handed Kites will no doubt help you see the connection. It's mostly in the falsetto vocals, but certain elements of the overall atmosphere hold up as well.
Here is what I love most about this connection: for one, Mew has really petered out in terms of quality. Their last album is basically just another pop record, so it is nice to have this sound brought back to a genre with better writing and composition. More importantly, I adore how Astronoid have taken the elements I love most about this band and injected them into a more technically proficient style. Mew always had a bit of a math rock side early on, but Air takes it to a new level. The drums are beastly in their shifts and speed, the guitars alternate between soaring choruses and ripping hooks, and the vocals are filled with pure, cathartic bliss.
I listen to this album and I am instantly put in a great mood. It's been a rough week, but even in the roughest moments makes me feel better. That chorus on "Up and Atom" has me singing along like a total sap every time, and that guitar hook... A few other highlights: "Homesick," "Tin Foil Hats," and "Obsolete." But seriously, you need to listen to the whole thing at least once. Even if you hate all things not metal, keep an open mind with this one. It's a glorious example of how great the lighter genres can be. Better still, you can name your price for it below via Blood Music. Enjoy.