Astra The Black Chord

AstraThe Black Chord
Astra play '70s-influenced progressive rock with a distinctly psychedelic flair, and hail from San Diego, CA. The Black Chord is their second full-length, following 2009's The Weirding. Positively cosmic is scope, this record is composed of spiralling galaxies of sound that draw the listener in with their innate gravity. The Black Chord showcases some of the finest classically inspired progressive rock being written today. Everything about these songs is long and drawn out, creating a sense of vastness that the music is stretching out to fill. The guitar work is complex without unnecessarily noodling and the solos unfurl in a smooth, natural way that makes them feel effortless. The use of keyboards is a highlight ― the rich melodies serving as the engine that guides the listener through the songs, charting a smooth course while the guitars and dynamic drumming frequently spiral away into moments of experimentation. There's a hallucinatory quality to the sound, a rich and hyper-saturated tone that can be dazzling, but never becomes nonsensical. For example, "Bull Torpis," the heaviest track and certainly the one with the most overt metal qualities, retains a strong melodic core that serves as an anchor during the more intense solo work. While The Black Chord dabbles in the hypnotic, spacey qualities of prog, it always keeps a strong head on its shoulders, resulting in an album that's as whip-smart as it is expansive and expressive. The combination of sharp-witted song craft and boundless structural creativity results in an ambitious musical journey listeners will be eager to partake in. (Metal Blade)