What do you get if you blend Symphony X with Dream Theater and add a little bit of melodic rock? The answer is Astra. It sure sounds interesting but is it good enough?

Astra is a group of Italians that started as a Dream Theater cover band in 2001 and ended up releasing their debut album in 2006 through Burning Star Records. After some touring here they are with their second release under the title “From Within” through Lion Music.

Astra do not hesitate to switch between heavy complex progressive themes and melodic AOR parts. The bad news is that the transitions are not always smooth (something difficult by its nature) and as a result some of their compositions sound loose. Titta Tany is a singer with a good range and performs impressively in an album with an extreme diversity like this. On the instrumental side, the album is technically near to perfect.

The tracks that stand out in my opinion are “Over The Hills”, “Memories Remain” and “The Hitman” and these are exactly the tracks that do not suffer from the “infantile diseases” that I will mention later. The track that closes the album, “Never Say Goodbye” really surprised me. It’s a Queen-like ballad that, while not bad, I found entirely foreign to the rest of the album and made the feeling of inconsistency even stronger.

Generally, there are a couple of flaws in this album, that while you can forgive them in a bands debut, you expect them to be absent by the second release. First of all, they need more work in the way the blend the different styles together to get a more consistent result. Also, by time to time, their influences are getting way too obvious. Anyway, I have to admit that what I listened to is certainly interesting and I will keep an eye on them in the future.

Track List Line Up
01. Over the Hills
02. Promises You Made
03. Memories Remain
04. The Rage Behind
05. Save Another Day
06. Hypocrisy
07. Road To Nowhere
08. Simple Mind
09. The Hitman
10. Never Say Goodbye
Titta Tani – main vocals
Emanuele Casali – keyboards and chorus
Andrea Casali – bass and chorus
Silvio D’Onorio De Meo – guitars
Filippo Berlini – drums

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