We’re glad to announce that Stockholm, Sweden-based progressive rock band Astrakhan have re-released their debut album, Retrospective, with a bonus track.
In a world where it’s hard to differentiate one rock band from another, Astrakhan sound like no one else, bringing several worlds of rock music to one point. Mixing elements of classic progressive rock (sometimes with the edge of progressive metal) with a singer/songwriter touch, Astrakhan guide the listener through a cinematic soundscape. Incredible songwriting and melodies that don’t get out of your head, ’70s prog elements, instrumental and vocal mastery on the highest level, and a consciously earthy sound production are inspired by the classics—yet sound exceptionally fresh.
Astrakhan’s debut album, Retrospective, was considered as the best debut in many years in the prog community. An experimental and dynamic release with an incomparable sound, both with respect to songwriting and attitude, Retrospective is now re-released with a bonus track.
Describing the backstory behind Retrospective, Per$y from Astrakhan says:
“… this album started from a christmas tradition me and my brother had – to meet up one day during christmas and from a blank paper/mind write a song together. This went on for some years and the music styles varied from latin, reggae, pop and metal. It all worked out great so we decided to write an album. During the same period the market was flooded with different metal projects that all sounded the same. We decided that we will do everything to NOT sound like that without sounding ‘weird.’ We just aimed for a very personal sound and not to think ‘hits.’ It took us like ten years to meet the right singer for the material and when the album came out the label went bust… so the album ”disappeared” but is now re-released. We also decided that we won’t take no short cuts when it comes to production. So we rented a big studio and did everything in the same manner as a million dollar budget release.”
About their plans for the future, Per$y says:
“Plans for 2022 is to release at least two singles and do a one week tour in europe during october.
‘Be quik or be dead’ 😁😉”
The first track on the album, “Under the Sun, Pt. 1,” begins with the chiming of bells, while soulful vocals and retro-sounding keyboards soon join in with their entrancing melodies. It’s the perfect introduction to “Shadow of the Light,” where progressive metal-inspired chord progressions are highlighted by edgy guitars, ethereal synths, and vocal harmonies. Midway through the track, an interlude featuring an array of majestic-sounding synths continues the song’s solemn and majestic tone, leading up to an impressive guitar solo before the chorus returns once more to conclude the track.
The powerful song “Propaganda” follows, written some years ago with lyrics that are more relevant now than ever before. With an energetic drive to the bassline and opening guitar riff, the insightful lyrics are nicely underscored by potent guitar chords, dynamic keyboards, and propulsive drums, interspersed with spoken-word samples that reinforce the message of the track. The evocative “Higher Ground” then begins with its melancholic acoustic guitar- and vocal-led verses and compelling choruses featuring downtuned distorted guitars and atmospheric keyboards, later taking an unexpected turn towards the end of the track and culminating in a fiery guitar solo.
“No Name Lane” is introduced by a distant acoustic guitar melody and introspective lyrics, bringing about a dreamlike sense of mystery, before clean-toned electric guitar lines and piano notes burst through with clarity, nicely highlighting the vocal passages throughout this excellent ballad-like track, which later features an incendiary guitar solo—before the song concludes as it began, bringing back the profound, illusory feeling. “Extreme Media Makeover” then begins with somber acoustic guitar and flute melodies, nicely accompanying the track’s intelligent, reflective lyrics. The track’s progressive melodic themes are reinforced by bold electric guitar riffs, heightening the song’s suspenseful atmosphere and captivating lyrical storytelling.
“Long Gone Generations” is introduced by a hypnotic, Eastern-sounding guitar motif, while a range of electric keyboard textures and dynamic guitar riffing function synergistically to underscore the commanding vocals and insightful lyrics throughout this impressive track. “Modern Original Sin” continues the Eastern-sounding themes of the previous song, with string-like synth timbres and powerful guitars nicely introducing the track. The vocals—at times expressively operatic, and at times shouted—connote a sense of anguish that builds perfectly on the suspenseful atmosphere created by the dark guitar melodies and dramatic piano notes, later exemplified with a poignant spoken word sample.
“State of Mind” then begins with energetic, driving guitar riffs, soon shifting into a more staccato chord progression as the commanding vocals join in, sustained by dynamic percussion. The track then delves into neo-classical shred guitar pyrotechnics, before a hauntingly beautiful piano outro concludes the song; while on “Under the Sun, Pt. 2” (the final track on the original version of the album), it’s hard not to be swept away in the track’s expansive, bittersweet vocal harmonies, highlighted by mantra-like percussion and soulful electric guitar leads.
Bonus track “Under the Gun” then concludes the re-released version of the album, continuing the melodic themes of the previous track in its guitar- and synth-driven intro, and soon taking these themes in new directions with an evolving song structure showcasing the band’s commanding vocals, powerful guitar riffs and leads, highlighted by resonant piano notes and propulsive drums.
Each track on Retrospective sends the listener on its own unique and compelling journey, bridging the gap between musical styles in a way that only Astrakhan are capable of. The Swedes have rightfully earned their place as legends of the prog- and classic rock underground, and their debut album is the perfect starting place for fans of either of these genres to begin. Highly recommended listening.
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