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Astral hymns - 90%

Muloc7253, November 22nd, 2007

This is a beautiful album. I've listened to this maybe 9 or 10 times now since recieving it, and for the longest time have had trouble actually sitting down and writing a fitting review for it. Just after I'd thought I'd got all I could out of the album, I listen to it again and discovered another part that I love. Considering this sounds like a fairly simple album when listened to for the first time, there is actually much more than meets the ear. There are many different layers and hidden treasures within this oh-so-'simple' piece of music that one won't quite pick up on upon first listen, and the more times this is played, the better it gets. Thus, this is true progressive music.

As I said, this is, from a superficial viewpoint, quite simple. There are many elements of popular progressive metal that aren't present here. There is no instrumental wankery whatsoever, no overly-technical fills for the sake of overly-technical fills, no showoffmanship to speak of. Also, there are no wacky time changes here. This is the complete opposite to a band like Spiral Architect, where the 'progressive' ingredients are obvious and oh so spectacular upon first listen, but become less and less interesting when set against the test of time. Yes, this is the complete opposite, as all progressive music is. Upon first listen, you feel like you have a fairly average, modest, slightly-gothic feeling melodic metal album. The more times you subject yourself to it's beautiful melodies and wonderful, flowing compositions, the more breathtaking the whole album works. Such is true progressive music.

The components are fairly 'normal' so to speak, there's a drum kit (playing traditional mid-paced beats), there's a guitar, playing some solos here and there but nothing egotistic, there's a good, clean vocalist, with a simple but emotionally powerful voice, and there's standard bass. Oh, and some keys (playing mainly piano-type stuff). Yes, that's it, and that's all they needed. Each song here is it's own beautiful piece of work, and really, there's nothing to compare it to. Certainly no metal bands to speak of.

Really, this is a beautiful, real progressive album, and is best for late night listening. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, Clay Withrow have created a great piece of art.