Album Review: The Grand Astoria – The Mighty Few
Genre: Jazz-infused progressive psychedelic stoner rock
Release date: 18 May 2015
Previous full-length releases: “The Grand Astoria” aka “I” (2009); “II” (2010); “Omnipresence” (2011); “Punkadelia Supreme” (2013); “Who’s in Charge?” (2014); “The Process of Weeding Out” (2014); “La Belle Epoque” (2014)
Length: 50 minutes
Recommended to: Everyone who enjoys stoner or sludge metal, psychedelic rock, experimental progressive rock and/or avant-garde jazz
Mammal’s rating: 5 out of 5
Damn! Here’s another album to which I can award only 5 out of 5. Expect to see “The Mighty Few” elbowing other magnificent albums vigorously for my top ranking of 2015. At just 7 euros on Bandcamp, this masterpiece is an absolute steal. Get it now if you want to give your brain a dozen types of eargasms.
The Grand Astoria are not only one of the most adventurous bands in metal, rock and a heap of other styles. They are also one of the most prolific. If I’ve counted correctly, this is their eighth album since they burst onto the scene in 2009. In addition they’ve done a spew of EPs, singles and split CDs/EPs. Here in the unbounded universe of mixed musical styles and genres inhabited by Mammal-type people, The Grand Astoria have been flooding us with amazing music, but never saturating us. I personally can’t get enough of them.
After just one listen, I’m declaring “The Mighty Few” is their best work yet.
Metalheads, don’t be misled by the opening two minutes of this extraordinary album. It starts like the best of the newest avant-garde jazz. But two minutes in, the stoner rhythm and the sludgy riffs kick in, followed very soon by the hard-rocking vocals, and then by a crazy, wow-wow, psychedelic guitar solo. Just short of seven minutes in, the music detours smoothly into the type of acoustic guitar and flute refrain that made Jethro Tull such a great band. That diversion metamorphoses into another jazz sequence, but this time with pounding bass guitar and saxophone joining the electric piano. The bass and the keys continue their mesmerizing interplay as sweet vocal harmonies glide into the composition.
The first few minutes set the pattern for the rest of the album, an intricate tapestry of genres on a cloth of pure gold.
There are only two tracks on the album, “Curse of the Ninth” (28 minutes plus) and “The Siege” (21 minutes plus). Both are modern symphonies. I know I’m going overboard, but both of those symphonies are things of truly great beauty. If The Grand Astoria needed to demonstrate that they are one of the most creative bands in the world, they have excelled on “The Mighty Few”.
The band was the brainchild of Kamille Sharapodinov, composer and vocalist. He describes the music as “tripped-out psychedelic fuzz rock having sex with heavy metal.” It certainly is seductive.
The Grand Astoria have completed more than 300 live performances in Russia and Europe. When I win the lottery I’m going to bring them to Zululand and fly all of you here to see them.
Meet The Grand Astoria on their Facebook page.
Trying to post a video excerpt from the album would fail to do it justice. Instead, here’s the album stream at Bandcamp. You can buy the album there.