God Is an Astronaut – Epitaph (Napalm)

Tuesday, 24th April 2018
Rating: 6.5/10

Somewhat of an understated pillar of instrumental rock, Ireland’s God Is an Astronaut occupy the large environs of post-rock and instrumental rock. Stated to the obvious, the band relies on atmosphere, not necessarily riffs. With that, comes songs that display little urgency, but can peddle around the open spaces, seemingly ready and willing to drop in those lush textures at will. On their eighth full-length Epitaph (note: the band has been active since 2002), God Is an Astronaut wring out an album fitting of their consistent, but never outstanding career.

The opening title track finds the Irishmen pushing into metal territory a bit, enveloping a boulder-size riff that would clip off for some modern doom bands, for instance, but then patches of delay (on the guitar pedals) and melody push the song back into familiar territory. However, something that could be applied to “Epitaph” (the song) and nearly most of the album is a sense of melancholia. The thunder-clap and bang of “Mortal Coil” are actually where the album peaks in intensity, effectively starting a drop-off of ponderous guitars that lead into something most instrumental bands desperately try to avoid: becoming background music.

We’ve often wondered (aloud) where instrumental rock/metal is going now that its mid-00s breakout was temporary. Bands like God Is an Astronaut and their ilk may continue to hold down the fort, but albums like Epitaph essentially show the style still has a limiting effect. At least there’s no vocalist waiting in the wings, right?