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Miskatonic Union: Astral Quest
Miskatonic Union - Astral Quest CD Album Review

Miskatonic Union: Astral Quest

Heavy/Power Metal

The lyrical content of heavy metal comes from a pantheon of typical sources, like science fiction, mythology, historical events, and fantasy. So it's no surprise that the two guitarists that formed Chile's Miskatonic Union had a love for both traditional heavy metal and the stories of H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is hardly an uncommon source for song lyrics. Metallica has done the same with the instrumental Call of Ktulu (Ride The Lightning) and the song Thing That Should Not Be (Master of Puppets), both based upon Lovecraft's otherworldly Cthulhu mythology. For Miskatonic Union, "Miskatonic" refers to the fictional college in Lovecraft's literary universe. Now, Miskatonic Union arrives with their debut album, Astral Quest for Germany's Iron Shield Records.

Miskatonic Union Band Photo

Miskatonic Union

It's a fine of album NWoBHM inspired melodic heavy metal, with your first best reference being a nod to Iron Maiden. Or a more contemporary peer would be Sweden's Starblind who also steal a huge page from Maiden. Miskatonic Union's strengths are elemental to the genre and their music: twin guitar harmony, an immense amount of swollen guitar lines, a galloping power metal pace (notably brought to the forefront by the bass line), and generally clean and melodic vocals. Of all these elements the strongest is the twin guitar lines. If you like your heavy metal guitar-centered and bristling with guitar harmony and leads, Astral Quest will satisfy you. Moreover, when these elements are combined, the arrangements sound rather epic. Miskatonic knows "keep it true" heavy metal and plays it with enthusiasm and precision.

Now for a few song highlights. The opener Awakening is a case of "beware of a song that starts slow," which begins with light acoustic guitar. It then develops into a strong heavy metal number that varies pacing, accentuates the bass line, and delivers fiery solos. Another notable song is Bushido Ninja where, at the mind point, you get this excellent flurry of drums followed by some fine twin guitar harmony. For the pure speed of power metal, Captain Sparrow is unrelenting and unstoppable. Alternatively, the song Nostradamus moves by a catchy rock groove developed in both riffs and rhythm section. Similar in groove is I Always Do What I Want, which also has a nice light electric guitar breakdown at the half way point.

I'll conclude by simply repeating myself. Miskatonic Union's Astral Quest is a fine of album NWoBHM inspired, keep it true, heavy metal, bristling with an abundance of terrific guitar work. Recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

All said, Queen Of Light is a solid, if not expected, album melodic heavy metal with some interesting and entertaining songs. However, there was also something to the Rexoria sound and song arrangements that seemed mechanical, like being too polished and predictable. You may feel differently.

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