15 Feb 2016

Astrodome - S/T

Reviewed by Joseph Murphy

On their first full length, Porto, Portugal’s Astrodome brandish their instruments with a ferocity that makes them akin more to the forefathers of heavy psych, stoner rock and doom than the more-recent uptick in those genres. From beginning to end, their self-titled debut sounds well-worn and perfected by age. This is an incredible feat for a relatively new band with only a live demo to their name previously.

Only six songs – albeit long: three all new, three re-recordings from their earlier demo – “Astrodome” clocks in at about an hour, and each track makes fine use of the long form, containing movements and jams that don’t necessarily always add up to blissed out leads (though it’s just as good when they do). Closer, “Coronation,” includes an extensive drum solo, which is refreshing. Astrodome is doing a lot for the genres they inhabit, proving their worth, while also seeing beyond the limitations of their idols and peers. I haven’t heard Astrodome’s name around too much yet, but I think it’s only a matter of time.

The opening bass line of “High Spirits” is an artful feint; the track could, with the fast-paced riff, take any direction, but the one it chooses is less-traveled – a crisp, atmospheric progression against thundering drums. By the time the song changes pace – about five minutes into the eight minute song – it’s perhaps a little closer to what you expect from a track named “High Spirits.” It’s all searing guitar leads and gritty grooves. But the juxtaposition of the song’s halves is what sets Astrodome apart.

The first of three re-recorded songs from their earlier demo, “Into the Deepest Space” again matches atmosphere (warbling feedback and dense, reverbed chords) with heavy blues, living up to their “ϟ PRAISE IOMMI ϟ” website title. At nearly seventeen minutes, the track has plenty of room to breathe and explore the permutations of the progression, play a bit with the rhythm, and generally space out – well, way out. Considering Astrodome’s obvious love for fuzz, they manage to work some beautifully clean, almost pristine moments throughout the record. If for any reason you’re unsure about an instrumental album – though I don’t think many readers here will be – this one will make you a convert.

Stream all of “Astrodome” on their Bandcamp page – or get it in digital formats or on cassette here.

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