God Is An Astronaut - The Beginning Of The End (Napalm Records)
2002 was a curious year in the world of music. The sun was setting on the era of the boy/girl bands, with their place on the charts being replaced by solo artists like Vanessa Carlton and Kelly Clarkson. The rock world was finding a new place between the college friendly music of Jimmy Eat World and the nu-metal grit of Linkin Park. Above all else, the world was given both The Eminem Show and the soundtrack to 8 Mile.
Yet, somewhere among all of this, a young post-rock band called God Is an Astronaut released their debut album, The End of the Beginning; eleven track of spacy, atmospheric wonder.
Flash forward twenty years to a time when instrumental rock and metal music popularity is at an all time high through bands such as Animals As Leaders, Intervals, and Plini. Having started their career long before any of these bands, God Is an Astronaut could not have picked a better time to release The Beginning of the End, a live re-imagining of their stellar debut.
One listen to the 2002 studio album versus the 2022 live record makes it clear: this is far from a re-recording. While the overall integrity of each song remains strong, there are many tones and textures in the live version that simply were not available with the technology of the day. The result is an expansion off of what was already excellent to something that defies words.
The mood of songs such as "Ascend To Oblivion" and "Fall From The Stars" take on new life as both haunting and mesmerizing. The appropriately titled "Route 666" feels like a high speed drive down a highway at dusk more than ever before.
While listening to the original album is certainly encouraged, it is not mandatory. Between modern recording gear and a passion for the material that still burns strong twenty years later, The Beginning of the End is an experience that can stand on its own.
The Metal Mayan rating: 5/5
I grew up with a strong appreciation for atmospheric and avant-garde music. My father's CD library included albums from bands such as Tangerine Dream, Enigma, and Deep Forest. In many ways, The Beginning of the End was like a homecoming for me.
Although this technically a live album, the emotion felt real but the recording quality was like that of any excellent studio release. The infectious piano line of "Ascend To Oblivion" is like an injection of joy and loneliness at the same time: am I supposed to smile at seeing someone I love or cry at the thought of them leaving?
This is to say that God Is an Astronaut created an experience back in 2002 that they are now able to take to a new level of incredible.
Visit your local record store and pick up a copy of The Beginning of the End, out now on Napalm Records.
Advance copy courtesy of Napalm Records