Progressive-rock/metal has been one of the most misunderstood genres under the music umbrella. It has often been referred to, as a gathering of virtuosos coming together to produce incoherent musical ramblings. Some purists even go as far as knocking down the genre to being nothing more than a vulgar display of pure musical wankery. The age old idiom comes to mind here, one man’s poison is another man’s medicine. That being said, this by no means states that Ritwik Shivam aka Friends From Moon is to be compartmentalized in the said genre, not by a long shot. Friends From Moon has displayed spectacular wingspan as far as musical genres are concerned, holding the progressive-rock/metal book close to the heart and building a sonic wall of sound with just the perfect blend of sounds from a wide array of genres.
With their latest offering, Astray, Ritwik has dished out a wild, heady concoction of various sounds, a perfect amalgamation of different genres that successfully takes the listener on a blissful journey across the sonic highways.
The album opener ‘Rage On’ sets a fitting start to a labour of love that seems to be born more out of complex thought patterns than almost anything else. The song culminates into a chorus of progressive-rock, ambient and metal vibes, seamlessly navigating through quick tempo changes embracing a large plethora of sounds and a complete breakdown of structure, setting just the right tone for things to come. ‘Rebellion Road’ drives things towards a mash-up of post-rock and punk, tastefully garnished with a sprinkle of eclectic electronic sounds and thick grooves that makes this track a sublime trip.
With ‘The Enemy’, the listener is lulled into pensive vulnerability that ponders upon the grey melancholy of life, ending with the striking echoes of a frenzied choir. The title track paints the sonic canvas with hues of melancholic, dystopian yet imaginatively melodic sound-scape. Friends From Moon follows this up with an industrial take on a Beatles classic, not really a cover as the band takes merely a minute segment from the song and stamps it with their own, unique stomp.
‘Marvels beyond Madness’ is a deep dive into the wide open mouth of madness, arguably the most aggressive track of the album. The onslaught begins with an evil, slow and eerie build up followed by beautiful chaos of gargantuan proportions, complete with growls and blast beats galore, this is a feast for every modern-day metal head. ‘Riverine’ seems almost cathartic, like what a person would feel like after experiencing a waging war of nerves. The curtain falls with ‘Of the Spirit’, a soothing track with electric and ambient touches for good measure.
Astray is not just an album, it is a strong statement of hope, a definite yet defiant scream into the dark corners that an overactive mind wanders off to, an encouragement to hang on while existing in a constant state of flux and uncertainty.
It is a journey that all of us have experienced at one point of time, a journey with a soundtrack that is layered with diverse musical influences and styles, great musicianship, and has drawn inspiration from day to day thematic experiences and thoughts. This has helped the songs have a life of their own. These are the factors that make this album sound extremely endearing and at the same time resonate loudly like a shot gun blast.
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