Astralia – Astralia – 95%

Astralia cover art

Astralia are a 4-piece from Spain who have a very small web presence. After some quick research, they have no website, a bandcamp containing just the album and very little info, a Facebook page you must add as a friend to see, a MySpace (do people still use that?) and a SoundCloud page. The important thing here is that I have their album, meaning while the rest of the band will stay a mystery, we can still get to the bottom of their latest offering.

The album opens with “Northern Horizons,” an atmospheric track that begins with well textured ambient guitar work and wide-open drums before crescendo guitar sneaks into the mix helping the song quickly develop from a gentle trotting show horse to a full gallop purebred stallion. Guitar tones are wonderful, sound stage is very large and the sound is full. “Glacial” brings a much tighter sound to the table as precious drumming takes focal point while deeply textured guitars wail in the background. There is an enormous amount of craftsmanship and tight control to be found here. Each instrument seems to have its place and each guitar tone and effect has been chosen for exactly the right reason. This track finishes far stronger than it opens and is effective in keeping me waiting to hear what’s next and wanting more.

The title track “Astralia” follows and sounds as though it was recorded in empty abandoned building given the echo-ish vibes. Each instrument is vibrant and is well spaced in the mix. Each riff, cymbal crash and bass line can easily be distinguished. They compliment each other brilliantly and synergize like very few bands are capable of producing. The bass is especially impressive and is consistently present within all the tracks. The album naturally transitions into “Midnight Sun,” the longest track on the album. An eerie build up tempts the ears as chords slowly develop over a lasting hum. The song finally takes form in the shape of a track that would put This Will Destroy You to shame. You heard me right. I would be willing to put this track up against song on TWDY’s “Tunnel Blanket” because that’s how good it is. This album is a work of true beauty and music art. My biggest regret is not picking up on this band sooner. This album would have sat on my digital shelf much longer had it not been for a suggestion from my buddy @Will_Hough suggesting I check it out sooner rather than later.

The album wraps up with “Mistral Roars” which is a heavy ballad of textured tones, drum rolls and bleak ambiance. Astralia took me by shock and overpowered me with its rawness and well crafted sound. Although only 33 minutes long, quality absolutely trumps quantity here. Each of the five tracks are unique, full of life and can’t be overlooked. You would simply be insane to hit the skip button on this album. This is a must listen to album of 2012. 7-19-12.

Free at http://astralia.bandcamp.com/