Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Astrakhan - A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin EP (Review)

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 12/12/2014
Label: War On Music

‘A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin’ DD/LP track listing:

1). Cupid’s Fist
2). Blinded by the Diamond Planet
3). Rest in Depths
4). The Pillarist


Born out of years of failure, frustration and stifled creativity is ASTRAKHAN. The band has emerged as a unique force, landing somewhere appropriate yet conspicuous within a thriving Vancouver metal scene that warmly embraces its sludge / doom / stoner and riff laden heavy metal.

The music is meticulously composed while maintaining the grit and ferocity that has come to define their live performances. No chord is redundant, no riff is repetitive, no progression is without purpose. The contrasting styles of their two-headed vocal attack serve as a definitive element. The urgency behind their music is palpable, and the final product is undeniable. ASTRAKHAN has built a loyal following based on nothing other than the quality of their craft and the intensity of their live shows. The sense that something meaningful is upon us grows stronger with each new song conceived and venue conquered

Astrakhan is

Dustan Toth | Vocals/Bass
Adam Young | Guitar
Rob Zawistowski | Vocals/Guitar
Jerome Brewer | Drums


There are two Astrakhan’s in this world – one that claims to have made the best prog-rock album of the year and the other is a little less pretentious, describing themselves as a very good metal band. Considering I don’t like it when bands refer to themselves as ‘the best,’ I decided to throw out the prog escapades of the first Astrakhan and dive head first into the latter’s newest offering, “A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin.” You may be surprised to hear this but “A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin” is a very good metal EP.

Up first is “Cupid’s Fist,” which is the closest Astrakhan gets to writing a love song. It opens with Young’s fingers dancing up and down the fret board with the same amount of finesse and twirls as an accomplished ballerina. Then in the left channel the rhythm guitar falls in and though you might expect him to grab the lead guitar’s harmony, he doesn’t, but instead plays an interestingly timed chug. By the time the vocals kick in, Astrakhan has already drawn from the 80’s and 90’s metal scenes, thrown in a touch of sludge, and have yet to really get things going. This doesn’t mean that the band is having trouble finding their focus, quite the contrary, everything that’s going on here comes across with confidence.

“Blinded by the Diamond Planet” is up next and despite what you might think, it’s not a space rock song. Though at its core still deeply rooted in heavy metal, this song sweats punk rock, especially when the group chants come knocking. For the rest, it’s the quick, punchy interchanging rhythms that makes this song stand out; Astrakhan isn’t here to linger in a groove any longer than necessary. If you want to hear Astrakhan settle into a groove though, then move on to the next song, “Rest in Depths.” There’s a sleazy guitar riff here that will get the heads bobbing as it pushes and pulls the drums along with it. Then the vocals take centre stage for their best performance and interplay thus far.

“A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin” closes out with “The Pillarist.” This is Astrakhan at their best, utilizing all of their best elements in six minutes time; channelling some classic heavy metal vibes, throwing in some punk, having fun with different timings, dabbling in stoner, and the execution of the two vocalists add that little something extra. I’m curious what these guys will do on a full length album

Words by: Victor van Ommen

You can pick up a copy here

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