Review: Astrodeath ‘Vol. II’

Australia has a long, rich history of interesting, cutting-edge rock & roll bands. From the immortal, legendary, downstroke punk rock of The Saints, as well as Radio Birdman, to the proto grunge of The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon and Cosmic Psychos, to say nothing of the band that I consider second only to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and all of that is without mentioning Nick Cave and  Birthday Party, ‘The Land Down Under’ has continued to produce some of the finest rock and roll I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this side of The USA, The UK, and mainland Europe.

Astrodeath 'Volume II'
Astrodeath ‘Volume II’ Artwork

Well, here we have Astrodeath, a duo from Sydney, Australia, who are releasing Vol. ll through Heavy Psych Sounds. It bares mentioning that I’ve always been in awe of duos, as someone who dabbled in guitar playing, as well as a short stint as a vocalist, I have a decent idea of how hard writing and performing music can be, even with a full band, but with two people? That’s commendable any way you cut it. Astrodeath describe themselves as ‘heavy-sludge/grunge’, and, fair enough, that description coupled with being a duo from Australia, had my curiosity quipped.

Turns out that description is fitting, as the band, led by guitarist/vocalist Tim Lancken and drummer Yoshi Hausler proffer a sound that is massive, yet catchy, belying the fact that there are only two dudes in them. Opener, Permafrost, underscores this sentiment immediately as the crushing riffs and wicked, yet oddly melodic vocals and the pounding drums blow the doors wide open right off the bat. Leviathan Rising is heavy as shit, yet oddly infectious as the vocal delivery is alternately maniacal and engaging, sometimes in the same verse.

There’s some serious chug and bash going on here, and when Astrodeath intensify the BPMs and speed things up before dropping into a dense riff-fest, my eyebrows were left raised. Red Weed follows a similar approach, but again, it’s noteworthy that Lancken‘s vocal approach works so well, as his energy alternates between a rock and roll shout, to a more tuneful approach that reminds me a bit of Keith Gibbs from Sasquatch. In fact, this heavy, melodious, rock and roll sound reminds me of Sasquatch all the way around.

it’s hard to believe there are just two dudes as Astrodeath’s sound is huge…

Ceremonial Blood, while starting mellow, quickly morphs into a mid-tempo, fuzzed up thrust, while Hausler displays his rhythmic intricacies, alternately bashing away while changing tempos with interesting fills and cymbal taps. Meanwhile, Neo Nephilim leans into the bands stated grunge influence with an earworm chorus, and memorable, tuneful walking riffage. Thunderous drum rolls announce Golden Death Machine, a speedier riff-monster that’s as epic as it is thumping, and once again there’s a sense of melody on display as Astrodeath takes the listener on quite a few twists and turns throughout the entirety of the track.

A personal favorite is the penultimate Invasion, which features an almost ISIS-like riff, but way crunchier and again it’s the soaring, rock-as-fuck vocals that grab the listener’s attention, especially on the chorus and end verse that help propel the track along with the relentless rhythm battering. Closer, the appropriately named The End, features more massive guitar and drum histrionics, as well as the now-familiar euphonious vocals that once again put on display the killer sonic duality that Astrodeath manage to capture throughout the entity of Vol. ll.

I listened to this album a lot in preparation for this review and found myself digging it more and more with each listen. Astrodeath have a massive, heavy-as-fuck sound that is skilfully accentuated by Lancken’s vocals, and his sense of dynamism in the approach, to say nothing of his awesome guitar playing. Hausler shines on the drums throughout, and at times that it’s hard to believe there are just two dudes as Astrodeath’s sound is huge. Looks like Australia has produced yet another killer band, and Heavy Psych Sounds, already at the global vanguard of heavy, fuzzy, stoner rock and doom metal, has yet another noteworthy band added to their stacked roster.

Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams