In a way, it seems a bit unusual to review just one song on its own, but since the song is almost twenty minutes long it seems more acceptable. The song in question is ‘To Whom It May Concern’ by the Russian band The Grand Astoria, who’s sound is a compelling mixture of Stoner Rock, Psychedelic, Prog and Metal.
The song isn’t on any of the band’s first three albums, nor is it on the excellent Ceaser Enters The Palace Of Doom EP nor is it available a single on iTunes so if you are interested you’ll have to either buy it directly off of the band’s Bandcamp page or else get a physical copy of their Split EP (with US Christmas).
The first eight minutes or so, after a quiet acoustic intro, is a mid-paced and mid-heaviness section with different key, synth and lead guitar tones coming in and out allowing the song to slowly unravel and evolve over time. For the most part, it still sounds like The Grand Astoria but it also has hints of Mastodon and Baroness’ recent work, in a way.
Eight minutes in and it takes a turn into the drum-free realm of feedback noises, atmospheric sound effects and dialogue samples, reminiscent of the The Mars Volta’s less accessible moments or the bits in the middle of Pink Floyd tracks like ‘Echoes’ and ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’ that you’d read described as “challenging.”
When the vocals come back in for an initially creepy clean guitar section the song really begins to impress, particularly in the vocal department, which has never sounded better on a The Grand Astoria release. This section is followed by some excellent spidery Robert Fripp-esque guitar and an increasingly lively backing from the rest of the band that builds all the way up through to a nice fat Doom riff in a non-standard time sig that combines all the prog dexterity of the band’s 2nd album (or tracks like ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ ‘Enigma Satanica’ and ‘Salvation Is Near’ from elsewhere in their discography) with great Sabbath sounding Metal and hangs out in this territory until the songs conclusion at the nineteen minutes and eighteen seconds mark.
Overall, the track is pretty interesting and impressive, I like it a lot and in a perfect world I’d love to hear the theoretical album that both it and the Ceaser Enters The Palace Of Doom EP tracks come from. As it stands both individual non-album entities are entertaining on their own as shorter mini-releases that still seem even better than almost all of the first three albums since the band always seem to get better and better - www.metalmusicarchives.com
The Grand Astoria start the 12” off with an LP side long track called To Whom it may Concern. It has fantastic lyrics and they have a very unique sound and are a big band, featuring 10 people. It is a strange mix of heavy, psychedelic, progressive, some screaming vocal at times, but a lot of stuff going on all the time as it slowly builds up. The cello, trumpet and trombone come in a bit later in the track when the sound sample from an archaeological show. The next section is really spacey before the track builds up in intensity. The lyrical content is more intense as well. This track is quite a journey. Great stuff. - writingaboutmusic.blogspot.ru/2013/01/the-grand-astoria-x-us-christmas.html
released September 5, 2012