Band: Astronaut Down
Band Website: www.astronautdown.com
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2010
For many bands there is a tension between the hard and the soft or the aggressive and the passive and finding that balance becomes a delicate art form in itself. This is especially true these days in the world of progressive rock which is many times over-shadowed by one of its sub-genres, namely prog-metal. Astronaut Down are one of those bands walking that fine line and even though they tend to lean a little more to the heavy side there is much to recommend with their second release Moths to the Flame.Astronaut Down is made up of Keith Bowen (vocals), Jeremy Daigle (guitar), Andrew Bortnyk (guitar), Joe Morse (bass) and Phil Lherisson (drums). You’d be correct in guessing that the twin guitars play a big part in the band’s sound, heavy crunch, you bet, and distinctly proggy, absolutely!
Moths to the Flame is made up of ten tracks and everything starts off with the soft and delicate acoustic “Moths Part 1” [1:50] which ends in a tentative spacey tone that goes directly into the twin guitar introduction assault of “Starfall” [7:26] but then after about 30-seconds the sound is pared back to a hard proggy feel, this carries on for some three and a half minutes until everything shifts gears to some Mellotron-ish string-sound-drone which leads directly into a softer bluesy subdued middle section. It doesn’t last very long before we’re back into a guitar onslaught with those beautiful string sounds in the background. You get the idea. Astronaut Down know how to rock of that there is no question but each of these compositions, most of which by the way are on the longish side, the longest being 8:23, have plenty of musical change-ups going on. For example, track three “Dissection” [5:47] which starts off with some very nice softer guitar picking and falsetto vocal introduction before descending into the more aggressive chorus. This is repeated a few times to drive the point home. The musicianship is tight and it needs to be because the number of times these guys start and stop is without question demanding. On top of that they manage to write some very crafty hooks so melody isn’t forgotten in the mix. I’d have to say my favorite track is “Back to Zero” [5:35], I love the distinct hard and soft counterpoint and chunky guitar riffs.
This is Astronaut Down’s second CD, a follow-up to their 2006 release and it’s a winner. If I had to provide a couple sonic reference points imagine the musical dexterity of Dream Theatre mixed with the moodiness of Porcupine Tree and you might get the audio picture. The sounds on Moths to the Flame are distinctly their own and my guess is there are lot’s of people in the prog-metal camp who will love this disc.