I’m not looking for sympathy but writing album reviews can be hard. If it wasn’t for the company car, health plan and generous Shaman final salary pension I’d probably do something less remunerative and more relaxing, like working in public sector audit. Writing reviews for albums you love is easy. Writing reviews for albums you hate is easier still. Writing reviews for albums that are in no way bad but just don’t float your boat is a chore and there are always plenty of them.
It’s always good to start with some basics, isn’t it? Travo are a four-piece from Braga in Portugal and have been around for a good few years. Astromorph God is their third album and, while I can’t claim prior familiarity with their earlier records, there’s a steady trickle of interesting bands coming out of Portugal for the last few years, and I liked what I heard on Bandcamp.
The press blurb describes Travo as ‘commanding attention with their unique fusion of high-octane heavy psych, prog-rock, trash-metal and an unapologetic in-your-face garage rock attitude’. After the brief scene-setting opener Omen, opener-proper You Won’t See Me shows that to be broadly true. Fuzzy guitars, echoey vocals and a pounding rhythm section all sound promising. Plenty of energy, plenty of scuzzy garage rock attitude, and plenty of wiggy space rock atmospherics, there is clearly lots to like. My only problem is that, despite all these good points, You Won’t See Me never really holds my attention after the initial rush of sound – it’s an enjoyable listen, but there’s no compelling hook or groove to sink into your memory.
Plenty of energy, plenty of scuzzy garage rock attitude, and plenty of wiggy space rock atmospherics…
For me, it’s a similar story with Arrow Of Motion and Faceless Ghoul – decent tracks with plenty of scuzz and squealing guitars, but just missing that something which makes you want to go back and listen to them again. It’s a shame, because when Travo get things right, they really get them right – Turn To The Sun (which they wisely released as the single in advance of the album) is everything you’ve heard before, but with the intensity turned up to 11. It’s faster, snottier and builds up to a really fun, chaotic chorus section. It made me think of Turbowolf’s first album, which is definitely a good thing in my book.
I think we’d all be deeply weirded out if the final track wasn’t a mellower, more expansive psych journey than what’s come before, and the title track doesn’t disappoint on that front. Driven by a sweet hypnotic bassline that allows the guitars to ebb and flow as they please, it builds gradually over the first ten minutes before some breakdowns and a big uplifting finish. It’s another track that I’d happily file under ‘I enjoyed listening to it, but I can’t really remember it ten minutes later’.
Travo bring a ton of energy and there’s lots of good stuff on Astromorph God. I enjoyed it, even if I can’t say it made a lasting impression on me. Give it a listen and see what you reckon.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc