Irish post rock titans God is an Astronaut have been around for 13 years now and have now gifted the world with their eighth album entitled ‘Helios|Erebus’. ‘Helios|Erebus’ (or light/darkness to us folk who aren’t versed in Greek…) differed in that there was nothing showcased prior to its release – every single listener went into it blind. Certainly an interesting way to launch an album, and it seems to have paid off.
Post-rock is a genre that has surged in popularity in recent years, with bands like And So I Watch You From Afar leading the charge. God is an Astronaut are immensely popular abroad, selling out huge venues in the United States and further afield. Here, however, they seem to be a tad under-appreciated. This album probably won’t alter that stance too drastically, but hopefully it does give them a chance at some recognition.
From the very beginning of ‘Helios|Erebus’, it bleeds that authentic God is an Astronaut sound that fans yearn for. Delicate piano and soft guitars build into a mammoth track in the opener, Agneya. By the three minute mark, the atmosphere that has been created is sending shivers down your body, threatening to consume you whole. The transition into the oddly named Pig Powder, features some really nice guitar work and a thumping rhythm section, is so subtle that it gives a sense of continuity.
Apart from the thundering songs, there is a degree of soundscaping prevalent on ‘Helios|Erebus’. Finem Solis is one of these tracks, but it undergoes an evolution half way through to become a delicate guitar led track. This flows into an (initially) ambient track that shares its name with the album. As the name suggests, this song is split into two parts – two polar opposites. At 3:18, the song explodes into energetic chord progressions and a frantic sound, a nice change of pace. It slows off for the lead into part two, but just before seven minutes, the franticness of the drumming and bass playing returns, all topped off with a monstrous guitar lick above it all.
The main issue with ‘Helios|Erebus’ lies with the fact that there’s nothing big on the album that really stands out as that track. It’s all quality, but there’s nothing as ballsy as Calistoga from ‘Origins’, their last release. In that regard, it could be considered a little bit disappointing. Centralia, which is the second last track, injects some mayhem into the album and knocks it up a rung on the ladder but still doesn’t provide that song.
Nit-picking for the sake of nit-picking aside, ‘Helios|Erebus’ is a solid album. It’s very easy to listen through intently or even just as a bit of background noise. Light/Darkness, the literal translation of the album title, is an interesting concept to keep in mind while you’re listening to the album. The Wicklow natives have delivered yet another selection of music that will keep fans happy as well as collect some new followers along the way.