Review Summary: The equivalent of flying through space.
There exists a point in God is an Astronaut’s career where all their music managed to accomplish was stagnate. Age of the Fifth Sun
simply alienated fans and non-fans alike with the refusal to make huge changes in their music. Their career started out in a smooth sailing manner, with The End of the Beginning
and All is Violent, All is Bright
proving to be their most compelling works to date. Hell, even their self-titled endeavor featured some breathtaking compositions despite ultimately bringing nothing new to post rock. Then this record came along, with it showcasing all of the band’s best qualities. Not only this, but the band tweaks their sound here for the better by means of an increased prominence of ambient sections and a further emphasis on heavier crescendos. Make no mistake that Helios/Erebus
happens to be the band’s most thoughtful work since their finest albums.
It should be said that the changes on the record are certainly not day and night from the previous record, but they are still big enough to be noticeable and provide a significantly larger amount of emotional engagement. The first one lays in the more vast sections of ambiance, adding the vibe that the album is supposed to represent the sensation of soaring through space. Take “Finem Solis” for example. The incredible way the droning ambiance soars truly sounds natural and adds an extra amount of depth that the band has been lacking as of late. The beautiful last minute of lush guitar textures are a welcome added touched as well. “Obscura Somnia” further expands upon all of the ideas seen in “Finem Solis” with combining them. The spacey soundscapes provide the towering terrain while the acoustic guitar work genuinely says more than words ever could. It’s these two songs alone that makes Helios/Erebus
even more worthwhile than the band’s previous two lackluster outings.
In addition to the increased soundscapes, their heaviness that sometimes managed to feel contrived proves to be well placed here. In “Agneya,” the heightened level of space rock influence in the introduction builds up to the typical yet still enjoyable God is an Astronaut flair in the middle section. However, once the engaging piano melody gives way to an engrossing heavy section, the listener will be pleasantly surprised. This section oddly enough actually brings to mind the guitar work of Isis due to the sound of the guitar tone which has an extra level of character here. The title track and “Vetus Memoria” also reveal themselves in the same amount of brilliance. Aided by the fantastic droning guitar notes and beautiful piano work before it, the bombastic guitar work near the end of "Vetus Memoria" hits surprisingly hard. The title track, also the longest one on the album clocking in at eight and a half minutes, never manages to overstay its welcome due to the skillful combination of all of these great qualities. The atmosphere rises along with the swelling guitar and drums, leading up to a thoroughly exceptional composition of every positive quality mentioned. It can easily be judged here how the band definitely matured a bit with this album.
Despite “Pig Powder” really bringing nothing impressive to the table, this album certainly proves to be one of the band’s best. It starts beautifully and ends that way too with a far reaching atmosphere of spacey vibes. Throughout most of the record it surely flows well and provides a pleasantly refreshing measure of satisfaction from a band that has become quite uninteresting lately. Its vast scale is also quite evocative, giving the impression that it brings to mind the nature of flying through space. Sure it doesn’t exactly blow the listener’s mind at every point, but it’s these reasons that Helios/Erebus
is the band’s most passionate record to date.