I’m going to start with that common complaint I have of EPs and singles which is that nothing beats a full-length record for the full musical experience. I know a lot of people listen to mix tapes and shuffle and watch video clips and for you, the news is excellent – these three songs on “Astray” by Butterfly Trajectory are individually fucking awesome songs. There’s atmosphere, emotion, sludgy riffing, melody in guitar and vocals, inventive drumming, blast beats, grooving basslines, vocals growled and clean, and most of all it’s deep and loud. You can pretty safely call it broadly post-metal but let’s not argue about something as pointless as that. The downside is that it all ends about 30 or more minutes too soon, although oddly there is a sense of completeness about the trio of songs and the way they relate to each other, almost as if it’s really one song in three parts.
One of the many reasons these songs are so good is the band’s progressive rock/metal approach of using whatever elements and styles work rather than being tied down to a specific genre. There’s no one band they sound like, with traces of Isis, Cult of Luna, Mastodon, but also hints of old bluesy rock, and alt rock. Although I wouldn’t say they sound like Karnivool the songs seem to come from the same place of starting with a clean sheet and just going where the music spirits wanted to take them rather than saying “let’s make some songs that sound like X”. There’s a lot of maturity and confidence evident in the songwriting and playing, with restraint showing there’s a lot they can do but the wisdom to know flamboyance and doing everything is not always the best approach.
Whether it’s fast arpeggios and scales running over a mid-tempo groove or the interplay of harsh vocals and deep chugging with clean vocals and melancholic chords, the use of contrast provides the key to all that’s good on the EP. Without using verse/chorus the songs still each follow a clear and well though-out path that makes them interesting but still natural and flowing. Instruments are played well, vocals are good if not unique, and the mix sounds just fine.
Butterfly Trajectory had another EP in 2011 which felt more like heavier post-rock and it’s interesting to see the shifts that have happened in “Astray” while retaining the band’s identity. In fact despite the differences between them and the completeness of each, the two records played alongside each other make each one better and that’s what I recommend you do.
It seems an album is on the way some time soon and so long as they replicate the foundations of good use of contrast and the balance of elements, it should be a cracker. In the meantime don’t let this EP slip by.