Greek band NAXATRAS was formed back in 2012, and have been an active live and recording unit ever since. Besides numerous concerts both in their home nation and abroad, they have also released one single, one EP and three full length studio albums since their inception. “III” is the most recent of the latter, and was self-released by the bans in February 2018.
Vintage era psychedelic rock appears to be this band’s specialty, with a wee bit of power trio aesthetics thrown into the blender for good measure. This latter aspect a secondary and supplemental one, but they do switch over to more of a hard rock expression here and there, even to the point of having a planned or accidental nod towards good, old Black Sabbath tucked into one of the songs here. But it is the psychedelic aspects that are dominant throughout.
This is a band that know and presumably love their vintage psychedelic rock. The play around with distorted licks and riffs, hovering distorted light tone overlays, reverbs and echoes aplenty and topping it up with liberal amounts of dreamladen, floating and elegant guitar solo sequences. Songs that ebb and flow and pulse and fluctuate in pace, intensity and arrangements, at times giving the impression that greater parts are improvisations built upon one or more core themes or foundations. While generally managing the transitions well and fluently, a slight annoyance is the band’s tendency to use fake end points in many of their songs, usually in the second half, as a means to start over with the initial theme. But otherwise the songs flow nicely along, cleverly seguing from one phase into the next.
The band is best suited to instrumental efforts, and thankfully the grater majority of the songs here are either instrumental or close to being so. Their vocalist doesn’t have a terrible voice, but it is on the weak side. In regular songs it isn’t all that much of an issue, but in songs that demands a strong vocalist this aspect becomes detrimental, cue the concluding singer/songwriter oriented Spring Song. The band also plays around with distorted vocal effects on Prophet, perhaps to work their way around this aspect, but as far as I’m concerned such effects should be applied with a bit more care and subtlety than in this case.
As this is a mainly instrumental album, the vocals details is a minor point here however, and as far as the instrumental side of things goes this is a good and tight band. Not all the ideas are as good as the others, although this will most likely be a case of personal taste rather than objective quality. The band does cover a wee bit of ground though, with many songs focusing in on one particular aspect of the vintage era psychedelic rock of the guitar based and guitar driven variety. In terms of style, approach or effects applied.
If you love and treasure guitar driven psychedelic rock with a vintage era sound and expression and with a progressive orientation, Naxatras is a band that merits an inspection at some point. In particular if you enjoy ventures of this kind that focus on and are at their best when no vocals are applied.
My rating: 69/100
1. You Won’t Be Left Alone
2. On the Silver Line
3. Land of Infinite Time
6. White Morning
7. Spring Song