Yes, we’re doing this post for the second time. No, it’s not because we didn’t notice (it kinda is) and totally because Astronoid have just released a new album and it’s pretty different to their celebrated debut. Wait, that actually does make a lot of sense; Astronoid’s self-titled, sophomore release seems to touch on different but similar wellsprings of inspiration for its sound, creating what could best be described as an alternate universe version of their debut. It would be interesting then to perhaps do a post like this with them again and see if the answers are different, perhaps hinting at those old/new sources of inspiration!
Lo and behold, that’s exactly what we have here today. Compiled by Brett Boland (vocals), the list below offers a fresh perspective on the different parts that make Astronoid tick. This one is definitely different than the one before, perhaps owing to the fact that it’s only Boland’s list this time or maybe just, the inherent fluidity of lists (if you compile a lot of them, comparing them over time is a really enlightening exercise). Lastly, it’s only natural that a musician would have a wide array of albums and artists that influenced them. Regardless of the reason, the list below includes some interesting choices, like Peter Gabriel‘s alluring fourth album (with its many titles) and the much-maligned (at least on this blog) Magma by Gojira. It also has some more mainstream choices, like Death but when you combine them with Boland’s commentary (and Astronoid’s context) you get some interesting configurations indeed.
So, read on below for the first second edition (yeah) of an The Anatomy Of entry. It’s a good one.
Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 4: Security
I came across this album early in the writing process of Astronoid. I have been a Genesis fan for a long time but I never really dove into the full Peter Gabriel discography. Of course, I knew the hits, and my father was a really big fan of his So-Current era work while I was growing up. This album really introduced me to his experimental side and made a lot more sense of his later work. It has such an incredible emotive power to it. There are so many ups and downs, he is a master of tension and release.
I really think that the song “San Jacinto” changed me. It reworked something in my brain. There is such emotional force to that song; I wanted to capture something like that in our music. I bought every live album, watched every video of that song through the years that I could find. That being said, to really experience this album, it needs to be listened to in its entirety. The album is a masterpiece and I’m glad I finally discovered it; I ended up falling for his whole discography after this.
Favorite Tracks: All of them.
Gojira – Magma
Sometimes less is more; Gojira stripped back their sound and became more exposed with Magma. I was completely taken from my first listen. I felt something from this album I had never felt from them before, there was an aggression to to it. It wasn’t an emotion of anger necessarily, but one of sorrow. This was really inspiring to our process. The internal theme of Astronoid was to cut the fat and to get rid of anything that doesn’t truly serve the song. We weren’t going to keep a riff because someone thought it was a “sick riff”. If it adds no value to the song, it went. I kept looking to this album as a perfect example of songs that speak their message perfectly. I love this band. Thank you for such a beautiful album.
Favorite Tracks: “Magma”, “Low Lands”, “The Shooting Star”, “Pray”.
Mew – Visuals
It wouldn’t be an Astronoid interview if I didn’t mention Mew at some point. So this album came out on April 28th, 2017. We were playing some headlining shows on the way home from dates with Ghost Bath. I had looked forward to this album the whole tour. It came out, I listened to it once and I wasn’t impressed. I liked the album, but it didn’t hook me. Not until I saw them in August of that year did it click. Like Magma, the songs are shorter; more focused.
They were also doing their usual Mew thing of experimenting with new colors in their pallet. There is a lot more use of synthesizers on this album. On the surface, it sounded like a more pop-driven album, with not as much substance. I could not have been more wrong. I think this is some of Jonas’ best vocal and lyrical work. His vocal melodies are captivating, memorable, and original. While I have a hard time with writing lyrics, I really dove into his, and tried to make sense of them. The lyrics and the band have left themselves open to interpretation and I like to do that with my lyrics as well. I think this album is overlooked by a lot of people, including fans of the band.
Favorite Tracks: “In a Better Place”, “Twist Quest”, and “Ay Ay Ay”.
Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
This album was probably my most listened to metal album while writing Astronoid. Hammer Of The Witches I thought was perfect, and this album was even better. How did this influence our writing? I don’t really know, but I’m sure it did passively. This album is so epic and huge; the riffs are memorable, and when it wants to, it thrashes so hard. The riff in the title track at 2 minutes and 46 seconds; when it kicks in….that’s all you need! I listen to a lot of non-heavy music, but I really love nothing more than that kind of metal. I hope they maintain this trajectory because I LOVE IT.
Favorite Tracks: “Wester Vespertine”, “The Seductiveness of Decay”, “The Night At Catafalque Manor”, “Heartbreak and Seance”.
Death – The Sound Of Perseverance
I went through an enormous Death kick while working on Astronoid. I listened to them all, but I need to pick one. Death is such a fun band to dive into because of all the session musicians that worked on the records; every album has a different character. I remember listening to Individual Thought Patterns for the first time and thinking, man, that sounds a lot like Andy LaRocque. Sure enough, it was!
I love The Sound Of Perseverance because of its use of rhythm throughout the album. The composition on the album is so great. They have always been an extremely forward-thinking band, and all of their music was ahead of its time. What I love about writing music is that I can take inspiration from all of the music I listen to. There doesn’t need to be any restriction; Chuck Schuldiner never limited his musical writing. He pushed the limits of metal and helped create something new. Also, that inhuman cover of “Painkiller”…
Favorite Tracks: “Scavenger of Human Sorrow”, “Flesh and the Power It Holds”, “Bite The Pain”, “PAINKILLER”.