Review Summary: Sithu Aye's ambitious third studio record set's its course for Andromeda and never descends below the stratosphere for its entire runtime.
Set Course for Andromeda is an Instrumental Progressive Metal record by Scotland based guitarist Sithu Aye. This record is created with great ambition, clocking in at a whopping 75-minutes in runtime, there is an absolute mountain of qualities to digest within this album. With most tracks eclipsing the 7-minute mark with ease. The ambition is felt right from the get-go with the fantastic opener that is Set Course for Andromeda!!!
. Sithu wastes no time in showing his incredible fretwork throughout the track. The track is a glorious wash to the senses of sonic bliss, as is every track on the record. Space Cadet
begins record beautifully with a simple lead line and an electronic synth following shortly after, the track feels like you are about to embark on a grand journey, and that you most definitely are, filled with a great atmosphere, this track is a great way to start the record. Sithu is definitely on the same playing field as the likes of Plini and Aaron Marshall of Intervals to name a few. His softer leads I'd argue are better than the more shreddier sections at times, for example, the bridge section in the title track is a stunning display of subtle playing with great use of vibrato, extremely mesmerizing.
This record feels like a culmination of all that makes up the DNA of Instrumental Progressive Music. The album features every artist one could possibly think of regarding this genre, Plini, Aaron Marshall of Intervals, Yvette Young of Covet, Jake Howsam Lowe of The Helix Nebula, David Maxim Micic, and I am MISSING some. This is a truly a staggering line-up of artists, the only ones I could think of that are let out are Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit, and maybe Tim Henson and Scott LePage of Polyphia? Nonetheless, every artist featured here brings every track that has a feature to unquantifiable heights. Such as David Maxim's staggeringly beautiful ending solo on Beyond the Boundary
, or Aaron Marshall's extremely fun outro solo on Transient Transistors
, it's hard to even begin to describe how grand these tracks feel at times. Yvette Young's beautiful violin playing on the title track compliments everything that is heard stunningly well. The acoustic guitar behind it gives it a very grounded feel, such an enriching and vibrant atmosphere that brings in such an earnest and attractive light. Plini's inclusion in the most jazz focused track on the album Spiral
works fantastically well as one may expect, I would argue this track is the most accessible on the record, mostly due to its length, but also it's rather simplistic song structure compared to the rest of the record, it offers a great breath of fresh air from all of the other longer runtime tracks.
Although the drums are programmed, they sound quite real in my opinion, harkening back to the track Spiral
, it really does sound like a real drummer is playing, in my personal opinion. Beautiful accentuation of ghost notes for that more jazzy feel, I also love the tone on the snare, super complimentary to everything that's going on in the strings department. The kick sits just right, not too overbearing or anything of that regard. Rhythm guitars often get out shun by the lead work, but constant lush chords are being played in abundance through a large duration of the record, very open sounding, it plays a large part in what makes this record sonically so grandiose sounding. The bass provides a great low end to the overall presentation, and it is quite audible which I am a big fan of, once again, extremely complementary to the overall bigger picture, although admittedly it doesn't do much more than playing route notes. And of course, I will reiterate about Sithu's playing, he is a top tier guitarist in this genre, without a doubt. His playing reminds me a lot of John Petrucci of Dream Theater (for the gen Z people), so blisteringly quick at times, but also stunningly gorgeous sonically, his playing takes me to the world of Andromeda, quite literally.
As if this record was not strong enough, The Andromedan
closes the record off with its colossal 30-minute runtime. Everything said previously regarding this record can be reiterated here. Such a pleasant and stunning listen from beginning to end, from Pt. I: A Single Step
to Pt. IV: Mother of Creation
, it's an incredible, magnificent journey. Comparisons can be made towards Rush's 2112 I would suppose, but not much is common between the two other than they are long epics in parts, and both derive in abundance from outer space travel and sci-fi inspiration. There are subtle Meshuggah influences scattered throughout such as the strong-rooted groove bass section seen in Pt. IV: The Darkness Within
. It gives it a great metal edge, or perhaps a Progressive Metalcore edge that works swimmingly alongside all of the other qualities on display. As the name suggests, this track takes quite a dark and sinister turn, a nice switch from what is seen on the record overall, although there are heavy sections on previous tracks as well. I feel like I really don't have to explain what makes this record as a whole so great, but I did anyway. This record is a landmark in the landscape of Instrumental Progressive Music and should be seen as a classic to avid followers of the genre for years to come.