On their latest album, The Moon Has Fallen, Alithia weaves a blend of post-rock, post-hardcore, psychedelic and art rock that proves difficult to describe. Thankfully, they coined a description for us in “Astral Space Core.” I would usually consider a band coining a name for their own personal pocket genre to be a little bit pretentious, but when it matches up with the elements which I perceived from their music so well, I have to give credit where credit is due.
I came into the album knowing nothing of the band, and it proved to be a roller coaster. There are moments of genius, and moments of… less than genius. My overall feeling is that every song existed on the edge, dancing between greatness and failure. The arrangements are sometimes thoughtful and complex but sometimes seem haphazard and disjointed. The vocals tow the line between “raw and emotional” and “thin and strained.” Sometimes the band weaves complex layers of textures, and other times it feels cacophonous.
The opening track “The Sun” proves to be a picture of the album as a whole. Atonal textures build into heavy post-rock grooves for the first five minutes, and just when you think you know what you’re getting, it cuts and breaks into a synth-pop style verse, driven by a pulsating bassline. Soon the energy builds back up into a half shouted chorus over a lilting rhythm, and through ebbs and flows brings you back to where you started. Some of it is powerful and moving. Some of it feels out of place. Some passages feel inspiring. Some passages fall short.
“Empress” is a standout track as well, but mostly stands out for being different. Surrounded by songs more focused on dynamics and texture, it’s the track that puts the “Core” in “Astral Space Core.” It’s one of the places on the album where it feel like the bands energy was focused and that the idea is fully resolved.
My enjoyment of the album seemed to vary based on my mood. Sometimes the chaotic energy seemed perfect, other times it felt grating. If you’re looking for atmospheric progressive rock with the discipline and structure of Riverside or Steven Wilson, you’ll more than likely find yourself disappointed. If you’re looking atmospheric progressive rock that seems like an evolution of late 2000s indie rock and post-hardcore, The Moon Has Fallen might be up your alley.
Despite any of its faults – or perhaps because of how well it wears its faults – I do recommend giving The Moon Has Fallen a listen. The album cover features a man paddling out into a mysterious and somewhat ominous looking sea. As a listener, picture yourself as that man, paddling out not knowing where you will find chaos and where there will be a taste of serenity.