|Review: Astra - From Within|
Label: Lion Music
Year released: 2008
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: March 29, 2009
Reviewed by: PowerMetal59
Rated 5/5 (100%) (4 Votes)
Astra, as is the case with their fellow countrymen Clairvoyants began their journey as a tribute band. While Clairvoyant's specialty was paying tribute to Iron Maiden, Astra focused their efforts on Dream Theater. From Within is the band's sophomore release and first with Lion Music. It also marks the first release with former DGM vocalist Titta Tani at the helm. Emanuele Casali, while splitting duties between DGM and Astra, handles the lead guitar and keyboard duties. Andrea Casali (Bass), Silvio D'Onorio (Rhythm Guitars) and Filippo Berlini (Drums) are all outstanding in fulfilling their individual roles as well. Now put away any preconceived notions you may be harboring inside due to the ridiculous number of horrific Italian Prog Metal bands that have polluted our ears, because Astra offers up a convincing slab of Progressive Power Metal, very much similar to that of Tanni's former and Casali's current band DGM. There are also elements that conjure up thoughts of Pagan's Mind and Symphony X.
Now of course there will be those unholy comparisons to Dream Theater which seem to plague the vast majority of bands producing this type of music. I guess that reputation would be tough to shed after you win a Dream Theater cover band contest, although as it relates to the Dream Theater comparison it does not mean that there is an excessive amount of individualism taking place in the performances of the musicians. Rather the band works as one cohesive unit in delivering their powerful and melodic sound.
Tanni provides us with an absolutely stellar performance; his voice sounds stronger, clearer and more melodic than on his previous DGM efforts. The riffs are powerful and heavy and the guitar and keyboard solos are as good as it gets without going overboard with incessant individual wankery. The only complaint that I have is that the album wraps up with a ballad that, while is not necessarily bad, does succeed in breaking up the incredible momentum achieved over the previous fifty minutes. That aside, it's fair to say that Italy is in good standing in terms of the Progressive and Power Metal scene with bands like DGM, Astra and let's not forget Pathosray, leading the charge. In the final analysis, From Within is an album that is a pleasure to listen to, ripe with superb, catchy melodies and a healthy dose of heaviness. Fans of Pagan's Mind, DGM or Symphony X will want to check this out without undue delay. Highly Recommended!
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