We’re in a golden age of Space Rock. For those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a quick formula: Start with Stoner Rock at your base, then spread on some rougher Doom Metal tendencies. Finish with dashes of Psychedelia and references to space travel.
It’s a formula for feeling like your coasting through space itself, and some of our favorite bands have done an excellent refining the concept.
Earlier this year, for example, King Buffalo gifted the world an album called Dead Star, a beautiful, heartbreaking record about a dying star (and all of the metaphors that can come with it).
2019 saw Swan Valley Heights’ The Heavy Seed, a cosmic-infused rocker with perhaps one of history’s best Stoner Rock tracks: “My First Knife Fight.”
Despite all of the nonsense that has surrounded 2020, the year has also given us Mindcrawler’s debut studio album: Lost Orbiter. A four-piece hailing from Munich, Germany, Mindcrawler delivers riff-laden Space Rock like they’ve actually blasted off beyond Earth’s exosphere and have come back to tell us what it’s like.
Lost Orbiter is definitely worth a listen.
Mindcrawler has been rocking since 2016. The band released Live at 8Below in 2018 and Haar Rockt Vol. 1 (a sampler) in 2019.
Now, in 2020, we have Lost Orbiter, an album that reached No. 3 on the February Doomcharts.
Here’s the band:
Joe Wagner – Guitar, Vocals
Johannes Stubenrauch – Guitar
Thomas Suszczyk – Bass
Johannes Loh – Drums
Lost Orbiter Album Review
Track 1: Valkyries
“Valkyries” is an excellent opening track because it showcases the band’s entire range in only a few minutes—and it is a solid representation of everything else you should expect on this album. Listen in, and you’ll hear towering riffs of fuzz, powerful drums, thumping bass lines, and desperate vocals dripping with emotion.
Track 2: Bigfoot Walk
If you have “Bigfoot” in the title, you have to be heavy. “Bigfoot Walk” delivers—it opens low and slow, dark and unsettling. Imagine a dream where your legs won’t move and Sasquatch is tracking you through the woods, step by step. That’s what this sounds like. And, as it turns out, that’s also what the song is about. Bigfoot is coming for you, the band warns—before erupting into the album’s heaviest groove yet.
Track 3: Drake’s Equation
We’ve given you a hand here and did some preliminary research: The Drake Equation is a formula used to estimate other active and communicative civilizations in the Milky Way.
Fittingly, Mindrawler’s “Drake’s Equation” opens on a sleek starburst of guitar work capable of transporting you from one plent to the next. When the rest of the band joins in, “Drake’s Equation” takes on a darker quality. Picture The Sword here—a metallic mixture of Doom, Stoner Rock, and Psychedelia that is as unsettling as it is worthy of headbanging.
That said, there’s plenty to love in “Drake’s Equation.” The track eventually calms, paving the way for another transcendent guitar solo. Later, around the 3:30, there’s a mammoth wave of distortion encassing the guitar work.
Track 4: Red Dunes
“Red Dunes” opens with a wild riff and heavy drums. When the rest of the band appears, the wave of sound is reminiscent of bands like early Lowrider or late Kyuss.
While the instrumentation is stellar throughout “Red Dunes,” it’s the vocals that steal the show. Here, Wagner’s voice is at its most passionate, alternating between chants, traditional signing, growling, and wailing into the void. The high emotion makes this his most noteworthy performance on the album.
Track 5: Trappist-1
OK, we’ve reached our second (and final) Astronomy lesson. TRAPPIST-1 is a dwarf star about 40 light-years away from our Sun with seven Earth-sized (and potentially inhabitable) planets in its orbit.
“Trappist-1” opens like you’re crashing through the atmosphere of one of those planets in a supreme headbanger’s rush. This instrumental track is 4:10, making it the fourth longest track on the record, but it feels like the shortest. The band powers through space and time with heavy servings of Doom and Psychedelia until the 2:45 mark. Here, the band breaks through the planet’s gravitational pull and drifts out into space on one cosmic chord after another.
Track 6: Dead Space
We could talk for days about “Dead Space.” By far the most intricate, Progressive, powerful, and captivating track on Lost Orbiter, it is the perfect conclusion to the album.
“Dead Space” opens with random frequencies coming over the radio until we land on a woman’s voice. “I wish I could talk to you,” she says. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry about everything.” This voice continues under the glowing guitars and bass before the first solo rises and carries us beyond the stars.
This is how “Dead Space” carries on—a winding pathways of Progressive twists and turns. There’s more voices over the radio, then layered vocals from the band, then more distortion and faster time signatures.
The track—and the album—ends in a beautiful shimmer of guitars.
Pros: Lost Orbiter is a strong debut with moments of genius. “Dead Space,” for example, feeds perfectly into the Lost Orbiter theme, and the layered soundbites go a long way in crafting a narrative that’s as interesting as the track’s guitar work.
Cons: We’re suckers for a good concept album at Monster Riff, and Lost Orbiter slightly misses the mark. Tracks like “Bigfoot Walk,” which is a cooler rocker in its own right, distracts from the cosmic obsession and space travel throughout the rest of the album.