When God Is an Astronaut released the promo single In The Distance Fading from upcoming Age of the Fifth Sun – I was amazed. But then, when the proper album came out in May, everybody started complaining about its being repetitive, badly produced or simply... boring. Was it the truth? Did Giaa commit faux pas hurrying with it and gave us actually... a bad album?
I had to check, so soon after the premiere I relistened all Giaa’s works and gave a listen to new “masterpiece”. Well, I got quite disappointed. It absolutely didn’t appeal to me, maybe I was flooded with a couple of amazing post-rock albums, maybe I just wasn’t in a mood for them. Around the summer, once I calmed down my disappointment, I came back to it, and it actually amazed me! Suddenly everything seemed fitting and charming. So what’s the problem with it?
I guess you shouldn’t listen to it any soon after discovering the band and being very into their earlier works or generally just after listening to them. It may strongly influence your opinion, mainly in point of its being repetitive. The point is Age of the Fifth Sun isn’t an entrepreneurial album – but it perfectly summarizes what the band achieved in the eight years of their existence, much better than the “Greatest Hits” compilation would do.
These are new, absolutely original songs, based on the well tried (and liked) methods and ideas. It shows well how the band improved over the years, how they managed to develop their skills and pass what they want to in a most precise way. This is still Giaa we know, with spacey, emotional music, guitar passages, and “flying” feeling.
Then what’s new about it? Music is slightly simplified, but in a positive way, showing really aware composure and usage of instruments. More explosive drums (especially in the song Age of the Fifth Sun – the part from around 5th minute is one of my favourite drummings) and the pressure “growing up” on you. Unlike many post-rock albums, this is NOT the soundtrack for studying/reading etc. but an album that makes you experience it consciously.
Another thing I like about it is that Giaa finally seems to find a balance between heaviness and dreamy atmosphere, which used to tangle a bit in earlier works. On this album there are mainly two kinds of songs: those that can “burden” you with a dark, anxious, sometimes offensive side (like Age of the Fifth Sun or promo single) and those that make you drift on imaginary sea (like Paradise Remains or Golden Sky). I guess you could say that this confusion between choosing dark or light side in earlier works was the best in band. It’s still here, but in more subtle way, and to me it seems that “splitting” them and letting both develop was like untying the wings for Giaa.
I must say that in each earlier album I had songs I loved, and the ones that seemed very average. Now, I have an album that I like since the very beginning till the last note. Apart from title song that I love more because of the drumming, nothing stands out - everything represents equally high level.
Then, recommended to all Giaa fans and enthusiasts of good instrumental music!
And hey, all you critics! Take a wonder whether you want Giaa to follow their own footpath, or change direction with every album becoming post-rockish Pain of Salvation?;)