Friday 18 November 2022

Astrosaur - Portals (Album Review)

Date Released: November 18th 2022. Record Label: Pelagic Records. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Portals: Tracklisting



2.Black Hole Earth 

3.The Deluge 

4.Reptile Empire 

5.Eternal Return


Eirik Kråkenes - Guitar

Steinar Glas - Bass

Jonathan Eikum - Drums


Norwegian Powerhouse Instrumental Rock/Metal outfit Astrosaur return with Portal. Their third full length and perhaps their best album to date. Astrosaur drift the finer realms that Post Metal visionaries such as Pelican and Russian Circles call home but adding the complex Prog Metal sludgy grooves that Mastodon use. Quite a stark contrast to their last album which sadly I never fully got on board with. Portals is a completely different story with Astrosaur perhaps leaving the Jazz Rock influences heard on their last two albums behind for a more Progressive Space Rock and Stoner Metal feel.

First song Opening is a heavy psychedelic affair with Astrosaur combining Post-Doom sounds, pounding drums and heavy fast-paced progressive sonic guitars that build upto an exciting Spaced Out finish. Flashes of intense of Sludge Metal grooves are only hinted at but showcases how heavier the band have become.

Second song Black Hole Earth is the perfect marriage of Post-Whatever Cinematic sounds and modern day Sludge/Stoner Metal sonic riffage with the band employing a more direct classic Post-Metal feel. Different styles of Psych Rock allows Astrosaur to fine tune their droned out parts of their sound. The song becomes more alive when the quieter organic parts appear. As the song drifts into Ambient Mode which gives the album a more chilled out effect before a bone-crunching atmosphere fully takes over again. 

Third song The Deluge is another lengthier composition with Astrosaur trying different complex melodies and rhythms whilst maintaining the albums earlier dynamically powerful Post-Metal drive. This song is quite a moody and cinematic journey with more direct focus but still maintaining a cool Doom/Stoner Metal influence. Heavy drums and Psychedelic Tribal grooves have a fantastic AMPLIFIER DISTORTED effect with fantastic heavy instrumental work from start to finish.

Fourth song Reptile Empire is the shortest track on the album running under the four and a half minutes mark. Less time for Astrosaur to play but perhaps one of the most thrilling songs on the album. More direct grooves with the band focusing less on Progressive themes and perhaps playing the most riff based track on the record. Sublime classic Stoner Metal grooves are being played with a slight Mastodon vibe but still with ASTROSAUR being ASTROSAUR.

The final track Eternal Return is the centrepiece or star attraction of the entire album. A twenty three minute song that is a Psychedelic/Progressive Metal epic which is the finest musical composition that the band have written to date. Intense, Melodic, Solitary, Cinematic and Groundbreaking are some of the words I use to describe this track. Astrorsaur provide a dynamically powerful song that moves between the finer lines of Post-Rock, Post-Metal, Sludge Metal, Doom Metal and Stoner Metal for a song that seems endless at times. The instrumental work is first rate and it does feel like Mastodon teaming up with Pelican whilst still allowing Astrosaur deliver a truly powerful and original sound of their own. Though, it’s the things you don’t notice first that stand out the most. Strands of Ambient Rock, Space Rock, Jazz Rock and Psych Rock being injected into the background for a song that’s nuanced and multi-layered at the same time. 

With first rate production values being felt throughout every second of this brilliantly recorded album. Astrosaur have delivered an album that stands out heads and shoulders above all the Instrumental Rock/Metal albums released this year. This is without doubt the finest Instrumental album I’ve heard this year.

Portals is a first rate album and perhaps a future classic in the making.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Pelagic Records for the promo. Portals is avaiable to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Pelagic Records.


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