I hope Elara Sunstreak Band will forgive me for taking a bit longer to review their album than most publishers, but I’m sure they know what it is like because on Vostok 1 they kind of make an art out of “taking a bit longer to do things”; well over fifteen minutes per song to be precise…
So aside from impressively stretching up their songs, what else can we expect from this German quartet? Epicness, packed in psych-laced jam rock with stoner tendencies. Opener Nexus is a mountain taming riff fest, evoking equal parts Tool, Soundgarden, and a quintessential stoner band like Stoned Jesus.
On A Drink With Jim obviously celebrates the Jim of Jims and his Doors of perception with a hazy organ-lead jam that deliciously meanders on in a modern version of The End or When The Music’s Over, not just freely referencing Morrison in its lyrics but also in overall feel and atmosphere. For personal reasons this song is my favorite on Vostok 1. I am a big fan of The Doors myself, and if you ask me there just can’t be enough musical nods in their direction ever. Especially when a band like Elara Sunstreak Band pays tribute but also adds plenty of their own. I bet Jim would agree.
The title track Vostok 1 is, as its moniker suggests a tribute of a different kind, namely to the first manned space exploration to the moon by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It is a deliciously spacey endeavor, starting off ominous and quietly, and then gradually lifting off into space, to the moon, and back. Basist/vocalist Daniel Wieland narrates the space travel in a epic wailing manner that fits the pace and atmosphere quite well reminding at times of Elder frontman Nick DiSalvo, the way it glides up and down the progressive guitar riffs. It is a constant factor that nicely ties the album together and makes sure its wide variations remain part of a bigger whole.
The album closes with Orange October, the closes Elara Sunstreak Band has ever come to a power ballad. It is a song that chooses subdued guitars and powerful chorusses over amplifier violence, and it closes this epic album off quite well. Vostok 1 shows the listeners that some less is not more, and that sometimes just jamming and losing all sense of time and place is the way to go. All the way into space, and far beyond.