The Underground Sounds of America: Astronoid
Though many bands wield the ‘post-’ designation as a symbol of legitimacy, Astronoid have earned it outright. The Boston quartet’s uniquely dreamy sound strikes an emotional chord with their glimmering guitars and soaring vocals, and yet their music always rolls forward on powerful treads of tremolo picking and double-bass drums. As such, they are post-metal to a T, sounding like a band that traversed through the loaded minefield of extreme metal and came out the other side happier and more nuanced for it.
Just as the band pushes the boundaries of metal with their sound, so do they keep pushing their own stylistic limits. Though their 2016 debut Air helped establish their signature flavor, their new self-titled album sees the band increasing both the dreamy and metallic elements in their music, adding what can only be described as a passionate aggression to their still-luminescent character and firmly placing them in a league of their own. But following up a critical hit isn’t easy, and distinguishing this record from its predecessor involved a difficult task for any band: admitting that you’re on the wrong track.
“Air was tough to block out of my mind while writing a succecent album,” says vocalist and guitarist Brett Boland. “I wanted to write songs that were better in every way; catchier, faster, and more technical. Songs that were written in that mindset were trash. They were emotionally hollow. When I started writing songs that meant something to me, thats where things started to come together. There are a lot of themes on this record that stem from personal experiences of the past three years. Choices we have made, changes in our lives, and what Astronoid have become.”
Learning experiences don’t occur in a vacuum. Since releasing Air, Astronoid have become darlings of the progressive metal scene, touring with the likes Ghost, Periphery, Animals As Leaders, and Zeal & Ardor; this spring, they head out on an extended US tour with Between The Buried And Me and Tesseract. Those experiences have allowed Brett and his bandmates to expand, both as humans and as musicians.
“We have all grown to be better players from constantly being on the road,” says Brett. “I feel much more confident as a singer than I have ever been. Through playing all these songs so often we found things that we loved and maybe didn’t like so much about the old material. While writing the new album we focused on amplifying the aspects of the music we loved the most; the emotional aspect of the songs, and the atmosphere they created.”
Daring to dream, we contacted Brett and asked about what allows Astronoid to fly so high…
Name your five greatest musical influences.
If you had to play one Astronoid song for a new listener to introduce them to the band, which one would it be and why?
I think I would play them Breathe [off of the new album]. The song has a lot of emotional weight to it, and it also has a good deal of technicality to it. I think it showcases what we are about, and how we blend atmosphere and energy in our music.
Would you say being from Boston has informed Astronoid’s music? If so, how?
A lot of important bands in metal have come from Boston. Isis, Cave In, Converge. If it weren’t for Isis, I don’t think this band would exist. The scene around here was really fun, and definitely had an influence on us. Our previous bands had a lot of fun playing around here and gave us room to grow as musicians. I think that all of our experiences in this area have lead to us creating what we have.
Who would be on Astronoid’s dream tour?
I think we would all love to do a tour with Mew, but I would be lying if I said Metallica wouldn’t be the dream tour. They pretty much taught me how to play guitar, so it would really be incredible to open up for them.
What is your biggest hobby other than music?
I spend a lot of my time writing and recording other music. I also love learning about new musical technologies and how we can make our live show easier and more fun for fans. I play a lot of video games, too. I love a good challenge like Dark Souls, or just to be engrossed in a world like the Witcher 3. I love finding weirdo horror movies from around the world, and watching films that have something new to say.
Astronoid’s music features influences from many different genres — what’s something that you guys would active try NOT incorporate into your music?
I think the only thing that we wouldn’t want to incorporate are harsh vocals. We have them in an older song, but I think we have decided that it’s not the musical direction we would like to go in. I can’t say that it would never ever happen, but I can’t see that coming up and having it truly serve the music we are creating.
Astronoid’s new self-titled album comes out this Friday, February 1st, on Blood Music. Preorder it here.
Make sure to catch Astronoid on tour with Between The Buried And Me and Tesseract at one of the dates below:
8 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
12 The Queen - Wilmington, DE
13 Chameleon - Lancaster, PA
14 Ashbury Lanes - Ashbury Park, NJ
15 Port City Music Hall - Portland, ME
16 Wally’s - Hampton Beach, NH
17 Anthology - Rochester, NY
19 Agora - Cleveland, OH
20 The Loft - Lansing, MI
21 Turner - Milwaukee, WI
22 Wolly’s - Des Moines, IA
23 Slowdown - Omaha, NE
24 Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO
26 Cargo - Reno, NV
27 Strummers - Fresno, CA
1 Glass House - Pomona, CA
2 The Rock - Tucson, AZ
4 Dos Amigos - Odessa, TX
5 House of Rock - Corpus Christi, TX
7 HoB - New Orleans, LA
8 Vynil Music Hall - Pensacola, FL
9 Firmament - Greenville, SC
10 Ramkat - Winston-Salem, NC
11 Diamond Pub - Louisville, KY
WORDS: Chris Krovatin
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