New England metal quintet Astronoid defy simple definition. Combining elements of black metal, shoegaze, punk, and dream pop, the band -- comprised of vocalist/guitarist Brett Boland, guitarists Casey Aylward and Mike DeMelia, bassist Daniel Schwartz, and drummer Matt St.
Jean -- created a cross-blended medley of genres that recalled possible unions between Devin Townsend and Alcest
, or M83
. Formed in 2012 in Lowell, Massachusetts, by three former members (Boland, Aylward, and Schwartz) of post-hardcore thrashers Hetfield & Hetfield, Astronoid began as a school project that was almost forgotten. However, after unwittingly building a following through some uploaded music on the Internet, the band got to work on their first EP, the two-song November. Their sound -- especially on the eponymous "Astronoid" -- was purely black metal, containing demonic growls, pummeling drums, and a wall of guitar haze. They followed with the Stargazer EP the following year. While the melodic black metal heart kept beating, the vocals evolved into more melodic and harmonious singing. That formula was expanded on their 2016 debut LP Air (released by Finland's black metal Blood Music
label), which attracted definitions like "blackgaze" and "dream thrash" for its dizzying marriage of seemingly disparate genres. ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi