Asteroid are kings of their craft, and their craft is the riff. You’d be hard-pressed to find another modern heavy psych/stoner/fuzz rock band that can groove on a melody like these guys do. There are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, the band is simply comprised of great songwriters who know how to put together an infectious melody that can rock. Second, Asteroid seems to be well-aware of the most effective qualities of 70s rock and metal. Think of the steady heaviness of Black Sabbath, the sonic exploration of Pink Floyd, and the raw energy of Blue Öyster Cult, and you’ll start to get an idea of what Asteroid is cooking with. These elements and a lot more can be heard on Asteroid’s upcoming third album, aptly titled III.
At only seven tracks and under forty minutes long, III is a fairly compact album. That being said, the songwriting is robust and the production is superb. All of the best parts of an Asteroid album are present – the growling guitar tones, dynamic bass lines, excellent rhythms, beautiful vocal harmonies, and psychedelic riffs fit for interstellar vision quests. “Pale Moon” opens the album with a hypnotic rhythm and melody that picks up steam as the track progresses. It can’t be understated how effective Asteroid is at employing skillful use of dynamics and repetition, and this track embodies that. This dynamic flexibility is also demonstrated to great effect on tracks like “Last Days” and “Til’ Dawn” wherein Asteroid can easily fluctuate between smooth harmonies and lumbering power chords. “Wolf & Snake” turns the gain back up, probably sounding the most similar to Asteroid’s earlier works. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have its own new tricks to contribute – the track moves from a bluesy beginning to a thunderous guitar solo to a slow-as-doom riff that ultimately ends in a clean chord progression. That’s a lot to fit into six and a half minutes, and Asteroid makes it sound easy. “Silver & Gold” is the closest the album gets to an acoustic track, featuring a tremolo-laden guitar line and both vocalists harmonizing woefully. Though this can be heard in many Asteroid tracks, this particular song does a good job of distinguishing the unique qualities of both voices. “Them Calling” heads in a darker and heavier direction, featuring colossal guitar and bass parts that would feel right at home in a Kyuss set. “Mr. Strange” (who may or may not be acquainted with “Doctor Smoke“) ends the album as a strong note by being a solid rock tune.
And that’s the beauty of this and every other Asteroid album. It can be as complex or simple as the listener wants it to be, but at the end of the day it just rocks. You can analyze each song, trace its musical roots, and pick out the most effective parts of the instrumentation. Or you can sit back and enjoy the music as a whole. Even though it feels over a bit too soon, III manages to kick some ass in a short amount of time.