Astra (USA) - The Black Chord
27 March 2012

01. Cocoon
02. The Black Chord
03. Quake Meat
04. Drift
05. Bull Torpis
06. Barefoot In The Head

Well well well, isn't this a nice display of over indulgence. This is an album that grabs you, enthrals you, then shortly leaves you checking your proverbial watch and edging closer to the proverbial door before the proverbial crowd disperses and it takes you 20 minutes to get out of the proverbial parking lot.

Listening to The Black Chord is a lot like getting riotously drunk. There's that point where you feel like everything is just awesome; all your jokes are funny, every serious statement a philosophical gold nugget, and every action a feat of pure manliness.

...Then 20 hours later you're still going through an apocalyptic hangover that just won't end.

Go on, try it yourself. Pick out any song off this album, and give it a spin. Chances are, you'll just come to the conclusion that this reviewer is simply talkin' shit. You'll be grooving out to the moogs & mellotrons, the flute and the Santana-esque wailing guitar solos weaving in & out of some pure droning psychedelic prog rock that sounds like it flew here from the 70's. Honestly, there is no denying it sounds absolutely captivating upon the initial listen, before it drifts into a sea of aimless wankery for what feels like an eternity.

Then it goes on and on and on. It eventually becomes clear this album is relying entirely upon retro throw-back novelty sounds rather than any actual substance. It's hardly a strange coincidence that the strongest track off the album, "Bull Torpis" is also the shortest. The sooner the lack of meat on The Black Chord becomes apparent to you, the longer the rest of the album will drag out.

Granted, there is definitely going to be a large number of people who can stay riveted by this retro psychedellica for an entire album. This reviewer, however, ain't one of 'em.

Band profile: Astra (USA)
Album: The Black Chord


Written on 10.04.2012 by
Doc Godin
Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.
More reviews by Doc Godin ››


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Merchant of Doom - 10.04.2012 at 18:11  
This is such retro-wankery that I would rename their website "astraporn"...
Introspekrieg - 10.04.2012 at 18:24  
Ouch, I thought this was an awesome album myself. It does rely on that retro nostalgia, but they are just SO good at it. Kind of a proghead's ambrosia here, I could see how some would find it repetitive.
BTW this is a lot shorter than their previous album, The Weirding... I bet you would love that one Doc.

and the first paragraph had me cracking up...
!J.O.O.E.! - 10.04.2012 at 18:35  
I agree with Intro. I'm totally not into this kind of thing usually but this and their debut are pretty fine records of hazy proggy psychedelia.
!J.O.O.E.! - 10.04.2012 at 18:38  
Also, the review should have gone here. You've added it to the wrong Astra.
Danny Devilto - 10.04.2012 at 19:51  
For me, this is almost perfect. Maybe it is not so original, but they are not copycats either. Their strongest element is their exceptional songwriting
The Benighted - 10.04.2012 at 23:03  
Album rocks. Been listening to it ever since day one, and it's stayed solid. Don't agree with the review, but it's well written.
scapeplan - 10.04.2012 at 23:22  
So that's where all my proverbiality wet.
JohnDoe - 12.04.2012 at 01:45  
One of the best albums I've listened to lately; I'm not a big fan of all this retro-prog, but Astra has always appealed to me.
Dentura - 24.06.2012 at 10:56  
I have always been a huge progressive rock nerd, and this album was awesome. Finally an album that is actually able to conjure back images of the glory years, without sounding like a copycat of the older bands. It embraces elements of some of the bigger bands then, and produces a unique sound with their strong songwriting! I love this album, it's on my Top Ten for 2012 at the moment.

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