Written by: The Administrator
When we're not locked in our drafty scriptorium, daily existence here at the Sleeping Village is inevitably beset by the type of backbreaking labor inherent to a (pseudo) medieval township. The grind is real, and, as such, an occasional dose of the weird and wonderful is a bit of a necessity. Hence, the promise of self-declared "space disco synth metal," courtesy of Alpha Boötis, seemed like a likely candidate for injecting a lil' excitement into mid-afternoon drudgery.
And boy, is it ever. I seldom write reviews immediately after consuming the music in question, but after jamming this two-track-plus-a-cover EP about eight times over the span of the past few hours, I feel somewhat moved to say my piece post-haste. Let's get to it.
As it turns out, "space disco synth metal" is, as ye honestly might expect, a tidy conglomerate of prog rock, synthwave, and 2000's-era euro-power metal. Disco itself, which I can only assume is a particular sticking point for most readers, is present in the form of a notably upbeat approach, but not overwhelmingly so. If you were expecting extraterrestrial Bee Gees action and not a whole lot else: fear not. Despite an level of unavoidable cheesy silliness, Alpha Boötis captures the spirit of positivity inherent to all of the aforementioned genres, resulting in a experience that is truly grin-inducing. Uplifting, even.
The title track contains the entirety of the (vocalized) narrative: in the far-flung albeit realistic year of 2584, an interstellar colony ship departs Earth with the titular stowaways on board. Cast in a comfortably traditional epic narrative frame, this track delivers the goods on both a sonic and thematic front. It feels victorious and grandiose, with all of the melodic heft and pop-esque hooks that tend to come with the territory. There's a definite cosmic bent as well, with ample futuristic-by-way-of-the-80's synth elements. The story itself, which would fall apart in the hands of a lesser vocalist and lyricist, is actually compelling in a fashion that I simply didn't expect. Given the insectoid nature of the protaganists, there's an oddly human touch to the narrative. All told, the track lands inordinately well. Followup "Plasmic Wastes Of Alkalurops" eschews the vocals for a significantly more synth-inflected approach. Archetypal synthwave drum fills abound, lending the entire affair a deliciously saccharine retro vibe. Despite a clear difference between the two tracks, they mesh quite well, delivering a tangible sense of good-humored drama in a very short span. This is music that makes you feel good by design, and that is certainly a quality worth celebrating.
The final track is a faithful cover of the The Police's "Every Breath You Take." It is well conceived and well performed, with vocals that pay homage to the somber yet sickly sweet delivery of the original. While I have no issue with the track itself, its inclusion in this partiocular package feels a tad out of place, given the clear conceptual direction of the prior tracks. I can't reasonably get mad at a good cover of a good song, but personally, it would likely have landed with more impact were it divorced from the larger project. Bottom line, however? This EP feels significantly more than the sum of its premise. If you're in the mood for a pick-me-up, Alpha Boötis and their stowaways most certainly have you covered.
Alpha Boötis - Stowaway Ants was released Dec. 11th, 2020
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!