It seems as if ever since the creation of Bandcamp there has been an increased exposure of instrumental metal bands. Instrumental bands such as Cloudkicker, Intervals, and Wide Eyes are some of the most popular and profitable bands on the website. Bandcamp made it easier for these type of bands to get started by doing something that iTunes could not do; name your price. This allows fans to pay whatever they want to the band for the album or EP. So now that instrumental bands are so popular there has been an influx of similar sounding bands on the website. Everywhere you look there is another instrumental atmospheric-sounding band. It is often hard to differentiate one of these said bands from the next because of the total stagnation from these bands. Most of the time, the only purpose these type of bands serve me is background noise when I need to write an essay for college. So how does Astraeus, an ambient and groove filled instrumental band, differentiate from the rest of the pack? Well, it is somewhere in the middle.
Most of the time, this type of instrumental music bores me at times because a lot of it is very bland. There comes a point where I grow tired of hearing the same atmospheric undertones and djent grooves. That said, Astraeus do a decent job of keeping from being the same boring and trite instrumental band. Yes, the album is mostly filled with the typical djentness and ambiance but they pull it off really well. The rhythms are bona fide head-bobbers. The ambient guitars paint such a pretty picture along with the rhythms. The production on this album is very good which makes the grooves and ambiance even more quality. Although this has been done many times before, Astraeus do it in a way that keeps it mildly interesting.
As well as the atmosphere and the grooves, Astraeus also throws in some melodic riffs and solos every now and then. The problem is that they do not do this enough and the songs end up being the same thing after a while. Even though there are some nice grooves and ambiance in the album, it mostly forgettable because it is the same thing. One part that really stuck out was the last two minutes of “Delusion,” where there was a passionate solo and really good melodic riffing. It is the same thing with the beginning of “Solipsis,” where the melodic riffs really dominate in the song. The key to instrumental music, I believe, is variety. Variety is where the successful instrumental bands, like the ones I stated in the opening paragraph, thrive. They have the freedom to do whatever they want and are not tied down to the conventional verse-chorus form seen in music styles with vocals. That is a problem with Astraeus and many other bands like them is that there is little to no variety.
Solipsis is only the debut release from the band so there is absolutely room to grow. The paying customers of Bandcamp are just eating this type of music up right now so this is Astraeus’ time to strike. They can be one of the top instrumental bands on Bandcamp if they throw some variety in there. Maybe the band can add some more solos in, or more melodic riffs, or even to pick up the tempo of the songs. The EP is name your price on Bandcamp right now so download, or pay a few bucks to the band, the EP and see if you like it. Fans of instrumental music will definitely like it. As for me however, Solipsis will just have to serve as background noise for the time being.