By Devon Motz
VANCOUVER — Somebody, somewhere, at some point in time, probably said something about stopping to smell the roses. The boys in Vancouver metal outfit Astrakhan couldn’t agree more. Sitting in a sunny neighbourhood park, Dustan Toth (bass and vocals) and Rob Zawistowski (guitar and vocals) offered some insight into the themes surrounding their upcoming offering, such as Toth’s deep-rooted fear of computers and what he so poignantly describes as “loneliness, despair, regret… you know, metal stuff.”
The aptly titled Reward In Purpose may be Astrakhan’s debut full length, but these melody makers are by no means newcomers to the metal scene. After releasing numerous EPs with Rain City Recorders’ Jesse Gander (who has worked with a number of notable acts including White Lung, Japandroids, and The Pack A.D.), and having spent several years battling it out in the trenches of Vancouver’s underground music scene, the band has carved out their own unique breed of heavy. With towering riffs and trademark harmonies, their preceding EP releases — The Pillarist and A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin — are both powerful examples of Astrakhan’s ability to create chaotic and complex songs, though Zawistowski feels they “Didn’t have the same unity and cohesion” of the new record. This is the first time the group have had the chance to create a fully realized body of work. Enter Reward In Purpose, which feels and sounds like an accumulation of years of work and sacrifices made. The album shimmers and ripples under the surface, effortlessly moving from swelling ambience to distorted fury.
Drawing from the satisfaction they find in process and the clarity that comes with conviction, Reward In Purpose explores the gauntlet of emotion that comes with realizing what truly drives you. “We were going to call it Purpose,” whispers Toth, after a brief aside with Zawistowski, perhaps unsure whether to divulge the dirt, “before Biebs put out a record with the same name.” Who wore it best?
Astrakhan will be bringing their own special brand of metal across the Great White North on a summer tour, kicking off with their second appearance at Calgary’s Sled Island Festival. Hopefully this time they can beat their Vancouver brethren to the artist’s lounge before the taps run dry.
Astrakhan perform at Art Signified’s new venue Studio Vostok on June 10. In Calgary during Sled Island, they’ll be playing the Palomino on June 25.AB, Alberta, Astrakhan, BC, British Columbia, Palomino, Sled Island 2016, Studio Vostok