Sons of Alpha Centauri have an ever-evolving and changing sound. The artists behind the band are continually striving to do new things and experiment. 2018’s Continuum was a high quality instrumental stoner rock album, as was their split with Karma to Burn. Then, just when you thought you had them figured out, along came 2019’s Buried Memories, a collaborative effort between the band and Justin K. Broadrick, (Godflesh, Jesu, etc.), and James Plotkin, (Khanate, Jodis, etc.). It was unexpected, but most welcome. So what does Push offer? Well, once again, it’s the unexpected.
For a start, this time there’s vocals. More than that, they’re delivered by the singer of Far, who I loved when I was younger. Add to this the fact that the drums on Push are handled by the drummer of the mighty Will Haven, and I was pretty excited before I’d even heard the first song.
Of the music, we’re in new territories for Sons of Alpha Centauri, (although old-school territories might be a more apt decription); Push contains 35 minutes of material that mixes emotive post-hardcore and metal. The band’s new album is quite different to what came before it, but you can still hear some of the progressive touches that the band are so good at. I especially like the electronics that add subtle layers to the music, for example.
The songs are well-written and betray their 90s alternative metal/post-hardcore roots. This is no bad thing, as they provide a strong foundation of tried-and-tested influences to draw from, which the band do in a such a way that their own identity remains intact. The guitars deliver riffs and grooves that worm their way into your subconscious over time, and the drums are well-played and nuanced. Despite the band’s use of a singer, (who we’ll get to in a moment), and despite him being an obvious and clear focal point for the listener’s attention, it’s good to hear that the rest of the music hasn’t been neglected and doesn’t hide behind his imposing presence. This is the heaviest incarnation of Sons of Alpha Centauri that I’ve heard yet, although heaviness is never it’s prime goal for the sake of it.
Sons of Alpha Centauri have transitioned from instrumental to using vocals with ease. The singer of Far has always had a good voice, and on Push he puts it to very good use. His voice is emotive and expressive, and his performance is idiosyncratic and full of character. I’m reminded of why I liked his voice so much in the first place. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly is to mine.
In many ways Push is a nostalgic love letter to a 90s music scene that’s long since gone. On the one hand it’s a strange record, as this particular 90s style is a very uncommon one to hear in 2021, (compare to 90s death metal and black metal, etc., which are very common everywhere you look these days), so listening to Push is nostalgic in a manner that other 90s-influences albums rarely are. On the other hand the album is so authentically-wrought, and voiced by a singer who was active at the time, that it’s convincing in every way. Also, besides all of that, it’s just a fine record that sounds perfectly at home in its own world. Good songs are always welcome no matter the year, and Push is full of them.
So, throw out everything you thought you know about Sons of Alpha Centauri, and embrace the experience of their new manifestation. Push is a strong, enjoyable old-school album, that’s packed with emotive content and infectious songs.
FAVOURITE TRACK: Hard to say, but maybe Saturn. The flow of the music, the rich background keyboards, and the affecting vocals make for a very striking song.