The “reactivation” of Swedish trio Asteroid, following a two year hiatus, has quickly led to the release of a seven-track third album rather unsurprisingly called III. Mostly we are dealing with the standard fayre of chunky swathes of fat fuzz over a groovy shuffling beat interspersed with thick, meaty riffs and walking solos. Like a slumbering Graveyard or Horisont, this is inspired retro; an evocative step back into the crackling bliss-buzz of 70s rock n’ roll.
“Pale Moon” has a recycling topline riff that buzzes about like a bee trapped in a bottle. It’s a total earworm but, by the third run-through, not in a good way. It’s a blessed relief when its steady disintegration into white noise is finally complete. “Last Days” swings a little more; a loose-limbed slice of Americana with a sweet, folky hue.
Robin Hirse’s emotive vocal wraps itself lazily around the rhythmic backline drawing you temptingly into each track. His lyrics are often dark – “Death will come, he always does / for each and every one of us” – complementing the melancholic tones that lurk within the music. For “‘Til Dawn” he gnarls up his delivery to match the bass-boogie and old-school riffery. For “Wolf & Snake” he bristles as his vocal drops in the mix and takes on a powerful, cracking quality to it. Solid, intense and heady at every turn, the groove makes this a sure-fire stand-out.
With the tracks sliding off the bat, chilled, smooth and easy. it’s a bit of a shock when “Them Calling” hits. Suddenly the music gets urgent, driven with menacing mantras and demonic choral chanting. Warnings such as
“Like the pain of a rusty chain around your neck / I’ll make damned sure that you never will forget” quickly make you realise we have strayed from the true path. Rather brilliantly, the metallic tang of steel invades the chords and the distortion and overdrive begin to shatter our repose.
III is a cracking little step back in time with a nice twist in the tail. It’s sadly a tad short at 35 minutes and besides a couple of tracks it fails to bring anything especially new to the table. Having said that it’s spectacularly solid and funnily enough makes for a great driving album.
(7.5/10 John Skibeat)