The Grand Astoria from St. Petersburg, Russia, has been busy again and here's their latest album. It was first available only on CD and in digital format, but vinyl is also now available (!). The band leader/singer/guitarist/songwriter Kamille Sharapodinov is this time joined by Igor Suvorov (lead guitar), Danila Danilov (vocals, flutes, keyboards, metallophone), Vladimir Zinoviev (drums), Eugene Korolkov (bass), as well as some guests. Sophia Miroedova did the illustrations and Alexander Karelin is responsible for the crystal clear sound. As usual, Kamille takes inspiration from everywhere in between heavy metal, blues, folk, stoner/fuzz rock, grunge, progressive, psych and more mainstream rock and pop.
The album starts off with the 3-minute, energetic and catchy fuzz rocker "Henry's Got a Gun". Then they go into more folk/Americana moods with the pretty "The Answer" that also includes for example banjo. Things do get heavier along the way, though. Love is the answer! One of the highlights for me. The title track "La Belle Epoque" even at first brings to mind the pretty, peaceful sections of Yes. Great vocals! The instrumental end part is rather psychedelic and hypnotic. "Gravity Bong" will appeal to the 70s / retro hard rock / stoner fans I'm sure and has a great, moody guitar solo part. "Serpent and the Garden of Eden" is the longest track on the CD at over 14 minutes. It starts off in a rather heavy and dark manner and gets more progressive with lots of different stuff. At one point I'm reminds me of Kingston Wall, but there's also some modern prog metal elements (Tool etc.). This is the magnus opus of the album! "Lisbon Fuzzborn" is at first heavy blues/rock 'n' roll, but changes into a nice The Who/Free styled rocking after four minutes and the vocals join in. The album is finished with the beautiful, mellow and short "Charming". This is possibly the band's best album so far, check it out!