ALBUM REVIEW: Astroid Boys – Broke

The VERY long-awaited and hotly anticipated debut album from the Welsh grime-punk-metal outfit is finally here. Astroid Boys have been around for what feels like forever, touring the circuits hundreds of times over and making a household name for themselves with only a few EPs under their belts. The group have consistently drilled new, refreshing and innovative elements of a wide variety of genres into an already thriving and frantic genre, and their debut only takes them to even higher heights.  The Cardiff boys wear their influences proudly on their sleeves with clear hints of grime kingpin Skepta in conjunction with Cali hardcore band Trash Talk peeping around the corner of each track. With grime widely being labelled “the new punk”, even to the agreement of Liam Gallagher: the self-proclaimed “rock n roll star”, Astroid Boys’ explosive debut establishes them among the best in the scene.

Broke, in contrary to previous efforts such as Dusted and Minging, sees the ‘band’ bringing their grime to the fore more so than ever, and adding a pulsating flux of electronica into the mix whilst the guitars take a backseat, so to speak. However, the record does still intertwine all that attitude the pre-existing fans had hoped for, I wouldn’t advise giving this one a miss. It’s the same yet different, and it’s pulled off immaculately.  The Cardiff 5 piece are more than just “something for everyone”, when you pick apart their sheer talent and blending of genres you’ll come to discover that there really is no other collective around like them. What they do is unique, and undeniably exciting and for that reason, among many others which I will get into, they deserve the utmost amount of success.  I won’t lie, I sat down and turned this record on with quite an amount of caution, and thoughts of the group going stale and continuing the same style they’ve sat with for the past few years, but I was pleasantly surprised.

(image taken from the Astroid Boys Facebook page)

Broke opens chaotically with ‘Cheque’, a banger right from the get-go, serving as a bold statement of intent. This song really encapsulates exactly what the boys are about, throwing all that they are capable of into the mixing bowl and making it look easy, just like your mate who could smash Dragonforce on Guitar Hero 3 on expert mode did, at the same time. The flows in this track are incredible, with Traxx and Benji bouncing energetically from bar to bar persistently.  The chopped-and-screwed atmosphere of the instrumental here really adds a lot to the track.  “They said fake it till you make it, I never faked it I made it” roars Benji confidently, bringing the track to a close.

Next up is ‘Mask’, yet another grime nugget of gold, carried by a massive chorus with a vibe rather similar to Skepta’s ‘Man’.  “Gassed, always gassed, broke boys always gassed, passed me the mask” chants Benji furiously. Traxx and Benji complement each other flawlessly, as Traxx brings the eclectic, rage-filled bars whilst Benji lays down a meaty hook. This track is arguably one of the most laid-back on the album, the addition of brass to the beat on this one is one of many examples of Astroid Boys bringing something new to the table.

Definite album highlight and personal favourite of mine ‘Razz’, is a guitar heavy track (sorry to keep bringing up Skepta) reminiscent of Kent punk duo Slaves’ cover of ‘Shutdown’. The inclusion of Roll Deep member, Manga Saint Hilare is a peak of the record for me, as he brings an energetic and fiery flow that wouldn’t look out of place on a Dizzee Rascal number. The second feature of the album comes on the following track, and first single from the record released a few months ago, ‘Foreigners’ in the form of Sonny Double 1 – who Benji met in prison.  ‘Foreigners’ takes multiple stabs at conservative isolation ideologies, bringing the groups racial and political awareness to light. The track could easily serve as an anthem for the politically divided people of post-brexit Britain, with the bouncing chorus of “we know you don’t like the foreigners” being repeated over a throbbing synth heavy beat.

‘Dirt’ sees Astroid Boys at their most hardcore to date, with it’s deep guitar chugs and aggressive vocal deliveries that are sure to get the crowd moshing their socks off.  Despite the track’s hardcore tendencies, it still sounds like a grime track and damn does it work. The track climaxes into a frenzy of wailing guitars and ferocious drum work off the back of Traxx chanting “You, wanna play games with who? Me? Got something to say back to you”.

‘Lost’ sees Astroid Boys at their best, both instrumentally and lyrically with it’s woozy, ghoulish beat juxtaposed alongside frantic yet chill bars from Traxx and Benji who are again showing another side of themselves. It’s obvious that  Astroid Boys don’t want to shut any doors on who they are and what they can do, and I applaud that as it leaves them endless options for the future.

‘Money’ brings yet more gritty guitar riffs and breakdowns that would fit right in on a Cold World record, a band who very oftenly come to mind when listening to this record. Check out ‘How The Gods Chill’ for reference. The track transcends from hardcore to grime elegantly again here without sounding peculiar. It works. it really does work. The outro to this one is sure to get those feet up high in the pit.

Titular track and album closer ‘Broke’ sees the group go down a dreamy road, with it’s almost relaxing nature that is common in the American rap scene.  The culturally aware, and sometimes fuck-about lyricism of both Traxx and Benji is what really makes Astroid Boys extraordinary.  This track is the perfect conclusion to a belter of a debut record and again sees the collective showcasing their sheer array of versatility.

This record is a very solid listen for me, one that greatly exceeded my already high expectations of the group and one that I’m sure will be soundtracking the remaining months of my 2017.  This is an album for all the grime heads out there, while also being one that will sit comfortably with the hardcore and punk heads. As cliche as it may sound, ‘Broke’ really does have something for everybody and is sure to bring the CF10 boys to the masses.

9/10

Be sure to catch Astroid Boys supporting the mighty Enter Shikari next month across the UK, tickets are available here.

Words by Ben Davies

featured image courtesy of thehundreds.com

 

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