Astrakhan is the creation of two brothers, Per (b) and Jorgen (k) Schelander, who share a love of music and songwriting. The band is rounded out by Martin Larsson on drums and Alex Lycke on vocals with Marcus Jidell (Evergrey, Royal Hunt) supplying guitar leads and production.
One of the first things you notice about their first album, Retrospective is that it has a dark and somber atmosphere. You get this from the start with Lyke's vocals over minimal keys, and then the heavy, thumping, Shadow of Light, where Jidell's guitar brings some welcome bright relief near the end.
While the music can be spry and complex at times, as with State of Mind or Extreme Media Makeover by example, there's an overarching feeling melancholy. Actually, State of Mind may be the closest thing to being a lively rock song on the entire album.
Despite the somber heaviness, song composition is at a premium, especially if you like your progressive rock a bit darker. Yet most of the album is overshadowed by two factors. One is Lyke's vocals which are clean, smooth, and passionate, displayed notably on Higher Ground, Noname Lane, and Long Gone Generation, but throughout as well. The other factor is Jidell's guitar lines which portray his masterful versatility. On many songs, like Higher Ground or State of Mind as only two examples, the simply still the show, becoming the brightness that make the arrangement satisfying. I guess if your the producer you can stick in some of your best stuff. All in all, Astrakhan's Retrospective is genuinely interesting progressive heavy rock, and a fine start for the band. Recommended.
Astrakhan's Retrospective is genuinely interesting progressive heavy rock, even if a bit dark, and a fine start for the band.
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