Start at The Traveler

June 10, 2016


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Astrakhan is more or less a sludge and post-metal band out of Vancouver, CA.  Let me start out by acknowledging the lower/average score here.  Reward in Purpose is 30 minutes of an excellent album.  This is of course a bit of a problem given that I just snipped about 15 minutes out of the runtime, and a bit of a downer since the album is meant to be taken as one larger composition.  But rebel that I am, I say nuts to that.  Astrakhan have proven to me that they are a stellar band, they just should have kicked this thing off with "The Traveler."

For really real, "Omajod" and to a lesser extent "Turgid Waters" are, for me, just really uninteresting and boring tracks.  Not a great way to start this thing off.  I was ready to give up when BOOM, in come those powerful, sludgy riffs and vocals on "The Traveler."  Now here is the energy I was looking for: catchy vocal melodies, intense drum fills, and a sense of brevity.  But the band one-ups themselves immediately with "Hatchet," which sounds like Tool meets Mastodon.  What a track!  This one sounds like a great crowd-pleaser for live shows with its pulsating beats and fun hooks.

Speaking of hooks, don't miss "Microcosmic Design" either.  This song sounds like it could have been an outtake from Crack the Skye or Blood Mountain.  The guitars spiral all over the place in a trippy display of rock and roll that is totally heavy while also opening your third eye for a few moments.  I picture the band having an absolute blast playing these tracks, which always increases my own enjoyment exponentially.  I don't want a bunch of bored, self-loathing shoegazers: I want passion.

So seriously guys, start your sampling of this band with something from track 4 on.  You may find you enjoy the others more than I did, but I am confident that a few more of you might stick around and pick this up if you go with any of the ones that I mentioned first.  Had Reward in Purpose been built in the way I envision, I would have easily scored this a mid-to-high 8.  Even so, I will be watching this band to see what happens next, and you better believe I will be jamming to my top picks for some time to come.