Saturday 8 October 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Asteroid - "III"

By: Jake Wallace

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/11/2016
Label: Fuzzorama Records

It is a hugely diverse record and shows the advanced musicianship between the band, blending all kinds of stoner rock and fuzz. This is a band who are firmly on the rise to the top and know exactly how to get there. One of the best releases of 2016 without a doubt.

“III” CD//DD//LP Track listing

1). Pale Moon
2). Last Days
3). Til' Dawn
4). Wolf & Snake
5). Silver & Gold
6). Them Calling
7). Mr. Strange

The Review:

The Asteroid has landed. Swedish heavy psych giants Asteroid have set the release date for their highly-anticipated third album for 11th November through Fuzzorama Records. It has been almost 7 years since their well-renowned second album II’ was released and the band are back with their most polished, solid record to date. A 7-track album following the naming trend of its predecessors, this is Asteroid - ‘III’.

Firstly, the album artwork is strikingly brilliant. Whoever is in charge of the design and creative direction of Asteroid deserves credit for an unbelievably eye-catching and vintage styled arrangement of their instruments taking pride of place as the album cover.

The album kicks off with ‘Pale Moon’ delivering a thick, rumbling bass line which gives way to some eerie psychedelic slide-guitar work. It has a triumphant sounding vibe with lots of dark nuances that give it a truly evil sound. It also has a somewhat spacey feel, with effects playing their part in the backdrop towards the end as the song comes to a close.

Last Days’ is the second track from the album and was the first track that was publicly released on Bandcamp by the band after announcing the news of the record coming out this fall. The intro has some nice big chords and paves the way for what’s to come as the vibe changes abruptly. Robin Hirse’s vocals begin as the song slows down and takes on a very similar vocal feel to Alice in Chain’s late great vocalist Layne Staley in ‘Love/Hate/Love’. Memories of the opening track, The Great Unknown’, from their first release are also re-kindled in this track. The guitar effects bring some very unique sounds to the table and the drum breakdowns are instrumental in making those parts as hard-hitting as they are around the 3:40 mark. The chord section comes back round again at 4:06 and reminds me of a Dead Meadow or Screaming Trees kind of feel. Two tracks in and we already have a diverse selection of music and it’s evident that Asteroid haven’t rushed into their song writing, it was most certainly worth the wait.

The third track ’Til Dawn’ rips back into the classic stoner rock style that we know and love Asteroid for. Their dynamic skill of switching from fuzzed riffs to beautiful, clean sounds is remarkable and they flit effortlessly between the two styles. The middle-end section slows down and each chord is powerfully punched out with some impeccable harmonised vocal parts between Hirse and Johannes Nilsson on bass. Drummer Jimmi Kohlscheen stands out on this final section as the drums are building in power and ferocity as the track climaxes before winding down with ease and ending on another sweet, clean chord.

Wolf & Snake’ has a very mellow vibe and reminds me of something that should be played as the sun sets on the beach at the infamous Dunajam Festival. This specific style of stoner rock is extremely pure and incorporates both the calm, mellow vibes and the earth-shaking fuzz. The intro section reminds me a lot of bands like Colour Haze and Sungrazer although Asteroid have their own brand of heavy psych and it’s still incredibly unique. At the 2:00 mark, the song takes off with a blasting rhythm section and some lead parts from Hirse, showcasing his searing guitar abilities. The drums and bass are extremely tight and give Hirse a blank canvas to let rip. Near the 3:50 mark, the tempo drops and the fuzz doubles and we’re witnesses to a crushing, sludgy section. The final outro section is another sharp contrast with clean guitar playing some beautiful sounds.

Silver & Gold’ begins with a slow, angelic sounding guitar section before the vocals come in and bring so much to the sound. This track stands out on its own and its superb blend of layered vocals and guitar, gives it that kind of Tarantino movie soundtrack feel, definitely one of my favourite songs on the album.

The penultimate song ‘Them Calling’ takes things back up a few fuzz gears and we’re dropped into an Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats style riff which just rumbles on ferociously throughout the song. It also has elements of the late Graveyard from Sweden. Around 3:35 they flick on the ‘evil’ switch and the riff gets steeped in gloom.
The final track ‘Mr Strange’ makes use of some awesome guitar harmonies to begin with before progressing into a lighter sounding, almost Zeppelin-esque section. Around 3:20 the vibe changes again and we have another killer, thumping riff with some spaced out lead guitar dodging and diving through the mix. The end section has some chanting vocals which go extremely well with the harmonies and it all blends into a perfect stoner rock package.

III’ is a masterpiece of an album from a band who need no introduction or a manual on how to create masterpieces. It is a hugely diverse record and shows the advanced musicianship between the band, blending all kinds of stoner rock and fuzz. This is a band who are firmly on the rise to the top and know exactly how to get there. One of the best releases of 2016 without a doubt.

III” is available here

Band info: facebook

FFO: Colour Haze, Graveyard, Sungrazer, Dead Meadow