God Is an Astronaut is just one of those bands. I’ve liked them for a long time, but I still don’t feel overly familiar with their work. So, I decided to go all in on their new album, “Ghost Tapes #10”, and I’m glad that I did. The album releases on February 12th through Napalm Records.
God Is an Astronaut hails from Ireland. They have been around since 2002, and have amassed quite a following in that span of time. On this release, the lineup includes Torsten Kinsella on guitar, piano and synths, Niels Kinsella on bass, Lloyd Hanney on drums, and Jamie Dean on guitar and piano. You will also hear guests Jo Quail on cello and Jimmy Scanlan on guitar.
The band plays music that is dark and experimental. I suppose one could label them as post-rock or post-metal, but the heart of what they do is far more textured, melodic, and evocative than that, though guitar is certainly the center of everything they do. They use electronic and folk inspirations in some of their songs, too, but the focus is always on a driving, emotional experience that feels crystal clear while also murky. Their sound is one of balance, and they are one instrumental band that always seems to be able to create interesting songs, no filler needed.
Their last album, “Epitaph”, was actually my favorite of the albums I’ve heard from them. It was brooding and shadowy in otherworldly fashion, and this album continues that sound. There is a certain urgency of feeling and desperation of emotion on this record that I instantly connect with, exploring the dark underbelly of self. It heaps humanity on your heart with calculated abandon. The cover art is quite appropriate.
The album itself does not overstay its welcome, with seven tracks and a 35-minute runtime. It feels like the perfect serving of this style, in my opinion. I cannot overstate how fantastic the band sounds here, too, with pealing guitars, rumbling bass, and dynamic drums leading us into crescendos and introspective moments.
“Ghost Tapes #10” has some variety, too. The first couple tracks, “Adrift” and “Burial”, are intense. Guitar is the main voice on both of them, sometimes creating this raw feeling with how powerful it is. “Burial” is actually one of my favorites on the album, as its meditative qualities are perfectly crafted, and the huge climax near the end will leave your ears ringing. Other songs, like “In Flux” and “Fade” feel equally as intense, but there are segments that flutter and move, as with the wind. “Fade” actually gets shockingly forceful at times, though.
My favorites are actually the last two tracks on the album, “Barren Trees” and “Luminous Waves”, which happen to be the two tracks with guest musicians. Might be something to that. Anyways, the former is the first song that really grabbed me, and continues to be a highlight. It has something of a shoegaze sound to it with Jimmy Scanlan’s emotive, high tuned guitars, and I love the central melody. “Luminous Waves” ends the album on a different note, abandoning the guitar for keys and cello (courtesy of Jo Quail). It’s an ambient closer, one that begs us to consider our hearts, and it is obviously gorgeous to the core. It feels like the ending to a story, but the beginning of a new one, too. As the album echoes into its finish, you can’t help but think about your life, your loves, and your future. It is an extremely good ending.
God Is an Astronaut is one of the most consistent bands out there today. Their music doesn’t change much from album to album, but the band never fails to create an emotional reaction within me, and sometimes they truly climb melodic heights with ease. “Ghost Tapes #10” is an ode to the strength of their compositional abilities, while also dredging us through intimately human auras. It is a rock solid record, one that should please fans of many different styles of music.
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