Album Review: Last December

From the get go, Astraphobia launched itself onto the Florida rock scene with all the distortion and power expected from a band of its nature. “Last December”, written collectively by the band delivers hard hitting guitar riffs, dynamic percussion and gritty, throbbing bass that gives the songs an edgy throttle. This solid hard rock debut album that showcases the band’s aptitude for hard rock but leaves them the task of forming a sound that will set them apart from bands in their genre.

The sound quality throughout the album is clear, crisp and captures nuances such as the slight rattle of a shaker or the subtle, dreary sound of slight feedback from an amp. ​The first song on their album, “Last December”, begins with a thunderous, weaving melodic exchange. It creates the feeling that you’re on a boat that’s constantly rocking, on the verge of flipping over into the murky depths of the sea. It immediately ties you into a pleasing, familiar routine of head banging and lets its current take you where it will.

Each verse of “Last December” documents the buildup to the protagonists’ breakdown and conveys his feelings of regret and anguish. “I’m an awful shallow, wasted fake of a man with an awful façade of a plan,” is a compelling lyric that describes the guilt associated with creating life plans out of confusion and having them fail miserably, a situation many college students could probably associate with.

“In the Clutches…” the acoustic, exotic fingerstyle pattern of the guitar mixed with a dry drum attack creates a caravan-like movement ala John Wasson that creates a foreboding, dreamy atmosphere. The result is a song that effectively sustains and emotes a theme of unmovable strife.“So far memories that sink with the weight of a damaged ship in which I hope to find,” is a lyric  within the song that captures the essence of redemption and hope. Both are something that are hard to identify and hold onto in one’s past if it seems too damaged to hold anything redeemable.

​The songs on the album are well constructed and sound great but are predictable for any avid rock fan. They’ll definitely capture interest with their great production value in addition to true and tested rock song formulas, but they don’t contain quirks or unique attributes that tell us the story of the players behind the music.

​“Last December” showcases the work of a talented, organized hard rock band. I have no doubt each member put a great deal of emotional investment and craftsmanship into the music. For a new hard rock band, this debut album does not disappoint, but it also doesn’t amaze consistently enough throughout. More risks must be taken in regards to sustaining a compelling theme and songwriting dynamic that will give Astraphobia a way to set itself apart from hundreds of rock bands that release albums every day.

-Samuel Figuera

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