Review Summary: I would say it's better than the original...but it is the original.Astral Rejection (OG)
is, as the titles implies, is the original version of I Set My Friends on Fire's (which I will furthermore abbreviate as ISMFOF) second album of the same name. Epitaph Records, whom ISMFOF were signed to at the time, were unsatisfied with the album, so they shelved it and had the band rewrite it to their liking. I'm not going to talk about the version of Astral Rejection
that ended up getting released in 2011, or make comparisons between the two versions throughout the review. I'll only mention now that the 2011 version is one of the worst albums I've ever listened to, and doesn't resemble Astral Rejection (OG)
in the slightest. Epitaph Records finally gave Astral Rejection (OG)
an official release in 2019, due to popular demand, and with the knowledge that they had screwed up eight years prior.
Much like ISMFOF's debut album You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter
, Astral Rejection (OG)
blends elements of post-hardcore, metalcore and electronic music into a formula that is intended to be fun, but also takes itself just seriously enough to maintain some well-thought out songwriting. After a minute-long intro that portrays the sounds of aliens making their way onto planet Earth, the listener is plummeted with the opening riffs of Excite Dyke
, and Matt Mehana's signature incessant screaming. After a bass and snare-rim driven section in which Matt devolves into a scream-sung cadence, Nabil Moo, the guitarist, delivers his first cleanly sung chorus (or what would be considered the song's chorus had they decided to repeat it). The song concludes with a succession of two breakdowns – ones that sound like actual riffs as opposed to incessant chugging – as well as Matt proving that he has low screams, and not just highs.
The following song, Narcissimfof
, covers the rest of Astral Rejection (OG)
's bases that may not have been hit on in the previous track. Nabil begins this track with a cleanly sung verse over a pop-punk sounding quarter-note riff, before Matt takes over singing on what is, in my opinion, the catchiest chorus on the album. As represented especially on this song but also on the entire album, Matt and Nabil work as a unit on the vocal delivery; and while Matt is the lead vocalist, he has no qualms with letting Nabil shine through with his admittedly better singing voice during the moments that were meant for him. Narcissimfof
also ends with a breakdown, as ISMFOF never wants to stay melodic for too long without some heaviness, nor vice-versa.
The lyrics on Astral Rejection (OG)
are funny, sometimes non-sensical, and usually only understandable when Nabil is singing. On the surface, they seem to be written from the perspective of aliens from outer-space who have landed on earth, but due to occasional drug and paraphernalia refences, I have some of my own theories as to "what might really be happening". Regardless, even as someone who normally doesn't care about lyrics, I highly recommend reading along with them upon first listen of this album, as I think they will enhance anyone's listening experience.
Although Astral Rejection (OG)
is a product of its time musically, it still feels like a breath of fresh air as a newly released album in the current year, as nothing even remotely close to it stylistically is being released these days. The album is a major improvement songwriting-wise over You Can't Spell Slaughter
, and it likely would have boosted the band's popularity a great deal if it hadn't been scrapped. While I could never forgive Epitaph for doing what they did, which ultimately caused Nabil to leave the band and take the heart and soul with it, I give them credit for owning up to their mistake and finally bestowing this gem upon the world.