God Is an Astronaut

Epitaph

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Since forming in the early 2000s, Ireland's God Is an Astronaut have been perfecting a brand of epic, mostly instrumental rock which leans heavily on cinematic tension but also has a radio-ready crunch to it. The group's ninth release, Epitaph, is one of their most ambitious albums yet, with a greater emphasis on atmospherics as well as a heightened sense of exploration. The average track length here is a couple of minutes longer than on most of the band's other releases, and the songs have slightly longer build-ups. They often start out soft and wintry, gradually swarming and swelling until they erupt into charred feedback. Pianos, synths, acoustic guitars, and textural vocals help leaven the sound, as well as subtle electronic beats. "Mortal Coil" is one of the more direct, immediate songs on the album, while "Seance Room" takes the long road, winding through peaks and valleys and eventually flaming out in a glorious meltdown. While "Komorebi" gets a bit dizzy but stops short of an all-out explosion, "Medea" takes the uneasiness further, sounding seasick and off-center. The album ends with "Oisín," a brief lullaby dedicated to bandmembers Niels and Torsten Kinsella's cousin, who passed away at the age of seven. The group know when (and how) to sound fragile and when it's appropriate to combust, and their sense of pacing has never been more majestic.

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