ASTRALION is a Finnish Melodic Power Metal band that was formed in 2011, after the demise of OLYMPOS MONS in 2010. The new band consists of members of OLYMPOS MONS (defunct), HUMANGOD, THE ADDICATION and TORNED. The band was barely founded, or two drummers are already counted as ex-members. Anno 2011, ASTRALION put out a 3-track demo, “Roadside Rose”. None of the songs survived for the debut full-length, “Astralion”, which was preceded by the single “At The Edge Of The World” in 2012.
The full-length was released on the 14th November 2014 by Limb Music, which also released OLYMPOS MONS’s debut album, “Conquistador”, in 2004. I did check out that album at the time, but found it too light for my taste. “Astralion” contains eleven songs and a good hour of melodic Metal pleasure.
It all begins with “Mysterious & Victorious”, which offers uptempo Power Metal in vein of SABATON, KALEDON, et cetera. Full melodic power comes out in the chorus and here it’s easy to think of bands like STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA, RHAPSODY (OF FIRE), … As is custom in this genre and with Finnish Power Metal: clean vocals all the way, on all tracks. This first track is a bombastic one, by the book, but also well done. “The Oracle” begins with an atmospheric intro, building onwards with hymnic leads. It’s a midtempo song with a focus on heavy guitars, while keyboards faintly operate from the back. It’s also a straight-forward song, but with a catchy chorus. No complaints from my part.
“At The Edge Of The World” is a return to power, on all fronts. This firm midtempo song reminded me a bit of EXCALION, STRATOVARIUS, etc. The double bass part and theme that started the song is in fact the chorus. Later on, the keyboards get their moment of glory before the music returns to normal. No time to waste, as the band attacks instantly with “When Death Comes Knocking”, where you get happy-sounding Power Metal comparable to FREEDOM CALL, AXENSTAR, and more. Full hymnic power is set in the chorus. And speed is also of the essence when the solos are played.
Sadly, as earpleasing as the first few songs are, the positive line gets broken by “We All Made Metal”. Ballad-like verses and a firmer chorus. It’s boring, I’m sorry to say. No, seriously. Luckily the “Black Sails” draw near soon enough to blow away the previous song. Dark piano sounds create the appropriate atmosphere in which the building continues via the guitars and drums. Firm, hymnic Heavy Metal is unleashed, led onwards by the organ. There’s even a neo-classical touch together with the aforementioned piano. The chorus could have been a STRATOVARIUS-one. Solos come into play halfway.
Ballad time then: “To Isolde”. Of course the piano is the leading instrument. Guitar and drum power fall in a little later, as well as in the chorus. It’s not a bad song, but nothing super either. After this resting point, the band is ready again to shift into 6th gear with “Computerized Love”. This is a fast song, in which the guitars shred onwards. The verses are devoid of Metal at first, the second time the guitars are added. The melodic chorus reminded me of (old) KALEDON. Solos, obligatory in this genre, are delivered by guitars and keyboards.
More metallic energy can be expected from “Mary (Bloody)”. It rocks, it’s got dominating guitars and keyboards (again faintly) in the back. In the chorus, the rhythm changes to a humppa-like version. There’s, in this song, also more room for guitar solos. Fast, Neo-Classical Metal is also on offer in “Five Fallen Angels”. Good stuff, but not as strong or as exciting as the other tracks. Last but not least: “Last Man On Deck”. This one begins calmly, like a ballad. After a few minutes, however, the assault is launched! Furious guitars and keysboards, a thundering rhythm section… all joining forces for a fast and aggressive display. And when you think the song is nearing its end with the piano-driven music of the intro, the Metal comes back: Slow, the organ in the back, and similar to POWERWOLF.
I mentioned quite a list of similar bands, I know. While this shouldn’t be necessary, it does help to show where to place ASTRALION, even if you can form an idea of the music in your head. In any case, while OLYMPOS MONS was too light for me, I do dig ASTRALION’s debut album. And if melodic Power Metal is your thing, then so should you. Recommended material while awaiting the follow-up, for which the band is set to enter the studio this summer (2015).
- Mysterious & Victorious
- The Oracle
- At The Edge Of The World
- When Death Comes Knocking
- We All Made Metal
- Black Sails
- To Isolde
- Computerized Love
- Mary (Bloody)
- Five Fallen Angels
- Last Man On Deck
Ian E. Highhill – vocals
Hank J. Newman – guitar
Thomas Henry – keyboards
Dr. K. Lundell – bass
Arnold Hackman – drums