We are now starting down the path of 2023: Another year full of new releases! From the bands we love and the ones we are yet to discover. A year that is filled with the promise of much talent.
The beginning of a new year is also a great time for reflection—reflecting on personal growth and achievements and milestones over the years. And taking a look back at albums that may need a revisit.
So let’s wind the clock back to 2016 and dust off an album that sounds as good today as it did then. I’m talking about a band from the mighty Fuzzorama label: Asteroid and their album III.
To understand why I have been compelled to revisit an album from seven years ago, you must know this: I have a penchant for being super eager to hear the latest riffs to hit the airwaves. I love to inhale all the heavy, fuzzy fretboard firework smoke that emanates from the many genres that fall under the umbrella of the Rock and Metal universe.
With a childhood filled with my parents spinning vinyl from the likes of Led Zep and The Beatles, Tracy Chapman and The Cowboy Junkies, and everything else from Paul Simon to Pink Floyd to The Grateful Dead, a melting pot of genres was always bubbling away on the record player.
Regardless of whether the music was played in the background or if I sat listening intently, I would absorb the vast array of emotions the music would offer up from its glossy black vinyl plate.
From the multiple genres that would fill my ears, a love for the Psychedelic Rock scene began to blossom. With its liberating and reality-detaching properties tied together with the ethos of its subsequent counterculture, I had found my home in the universe. A home I was free to leave but always welcomed back to.
Since then, I have always been drawn to the Psychedelic world in all its forms!
So when I hear an authentic and super slick sound that feels like it has come on a direct flight from the ‘70s to this side of the 2000s, I get tingly. I get animated. And, holy smokes, do I really get going!
Asteroid is one of those bands that hits that nostalgia button, but they also deliver a slick modern take that makes me brim with excitement.
From their self-titled 2007 release, and on to II in 2010, and then their (hopefully not) last album, III in 2016, Asteroid matured, refined, and distilled their sound with each release, culminating into what I feel is an intelligent simplicity on III.
The fuzz from previous outings is dialed back. The songs are to the point and are very well-balanced. Running at 36 minutes, the shortest of all their albums, it is also very easy to digest and decipher, and it’s incredibly wonderful to decompress to.
When I feel like I have been hurtling headlong through the cosmos on the back of a comet, in search of the latest heavy, filthy fuzz, and I start to get a bit wobbly at breakneck speeds, I like to calm down and center myself with some reaffirming Asteroid.
With properties much akin to the palate-cleansing ginger in Japanese food, Asteroid brings my love of music back into focus, enabling me to breathe deeply, survey the landscape, and ready myself for more great musical journeys ahead.
Asteroid has been hurtling about within the Stoner Rock orbit since their self-titled album in 2007, and the band is made up of:
- Robin Hirse – Guitar/Vox
- Johannes Nilsson – Bass/Vox
- Elvis Campbell – Drums
Hailing from Örebro, Sweden, Asteroid fuses together the key components of Blues and Psychedelic Rock to create their signature sound.
And the sound on this particular album, III, has been worked in a seemingly simple (but meticulous and absolutely genius) way to create a Fleetwood Mac Rumours style of finesse.
While the music is never too dark or foreboding, the lyrics create an undercurrent of despair and uneasiness. The songs play out, delicately scratching the itch that relieves the patiently built gentle tension between the drums, bass, and guitar. The vocals refrain from being flamboyant and are used sparingly. The concept seems to be “Less is more,” more or less.
But with all of that out of the way, I’ll quit the jibber jabber so we can have a listen. Shall we?
III Album Review
Length: 36 minutes
Track 1: Pale Moon
An enticing, toe-tapping beat greets us on the commencement of “Pale Moon.” Whispered guitar strings stretch with an enticing hum. The bass groove drops in, filled with bubbling promise. The guitar reappears front and center, stretching its chords skywards. In unison, the trio builds to a mild climax that reveals the vocals with a simple verse that sets the tone for the majority of Asteroid’s lyrics. A prophecy of doom, despair, and hopelessness. Building with strong, climatic enthusiasm, the song reaches its apex and leads us to our “Last Days.”
Track 2: Last Days
The band wastes no time, and they jump in together off the back of the energy they have created from “Pale Moon.”
A brilliant song structure has them striding purposefully toward the launch of a showcase of singing and songwriting from Robin Hirse. The lyrics offer a glimpse into the darkness that resides in his being. However, his delivery is sung in such a soaring manner that the gravity of the lyrics sinks in slower—but ultimately heavier!
The band winds down the song graciously, giving time to reflect on the verses that have just been served: “Death will come, he always does / For each and every one of us.” A haunting echo of this song lingers with me still!
Track 3: Til’ Dawn
A sweet, smokey intro leads us along the path to what could be best described as a nod to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” But it is just a nod, and not full-blown Sabbath worship.
So fear not, the Asteroid keeps blazing a trail of Psych Rock tinged with Doom.
Track 4: Wolf & Snake
A catchy bass line that glides with a nonchalant funk is slowly given support. One could be forgiven for thinking that it was a Fun Lovin’ Criminals track at first. With a suave, super cool demeanor, it cruises along in style. But the might of Asteroid soon builds.
The lone verse serves as the fuse to launch some blistering guitar work, climbing higher into the atmosphere, only to be caught on the cusp of a cosmic explosion. The Doom is dialed in. And the weight of that Doom draws us back with a primal gravitational pull, till we are fully grounded.
Track 5: Silver and Gold
Ripples of somber chords create a calming ambiance to which delicate vocals decorate the air with their narrative. It’s a song so beautiful in its simplicity, with no need to show off any muscle or flair. Just let it shine like silver and gold.
Track 6: Them Calling
From the ripples of “Silver and Gold,” Asteroid is ready to stir the beast from its slumber. A menacing tone with a touch of reverb taunts the listener and proclaims, “Now I stand at the gates of hell!”
The song leaves you wondering what torment and darkness surround the band that has shaped their bleak outlook. One can only wonder!
Track 7: Mr. Strange
I must state that undoubtedly what draws me into the aura of Asteroid is the delectable bass lines. Sugar-coated with the guitar licks that adorn them, it is one hell of a rush. “Mr. Strange” sees them pull this recipe out again to my delight. Smatterings of that wailing guitar work goad me deeper into Asteroid decadence.
Final Thoughts On III
Final Score: 10/10
Standout Tracks: “Pale Moon” and “Wolf & Snake”
Pros: The members of Asteroid have carefully honed their sound. They keep everything tidy and in its place. There isn’t any reliance on synths or overdubs to fill their sound.
Putting out three albums over the space of nine years shows they are unhurried and only want to deliver quality in their name.
They strike a brilliant balance of energy and emotion without ever dialing up the fuzz too much or going as Psychedelic as they so easily could. And keeping the song duration at an average of five minutes helps every song slip into a playlist with no drama.
Cons: The cons are trivial at this point in time. The members of Asteroid have architecturally designed an album that fits together just so. Any modifications to it would upset the structural integrity of their creation.
They’ve executed an album that makes it easy for anyone to light up, drink up, and dance the night away to. Or day, for that matter, as anytime is a good time for Asteroid’s III.