This Local Band’s New Album Is Out of This World

Astral Hand’s debut album “Lords of Data” is out now.

Milwaukee band Astral Hand released their new album Lords of Data today through Romanus Records. The band, formerly known as Calliope, includes Vic Buell, Al Kraemer, Anthony Smith and Dan Dahl. With its new name, the local heavy psych band is going darker and further – past our atmosphere to connect with what lies beyond. 

The extraterrestrial concept reveals itself immediately, and only gets more tactile as each song in the eight-track album coalesces into a dark meditation. 

“One of the most mind-boggling things is to stare at the night sky and try to wrap your head around just how vast the universe is,” says Vic Buell, guitarist of Astral Hand. “Our home galaxy is a speck of dust in comparison. What else is out there? We simply don’t know.”



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The repeated riffs, blooming guitars and drony synthesizers are captivating and hypnotic, and are reminiscent of early Black Angel’s records. The vocal tones are as entrancing as Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne, especially in moments of Kramer’s masterful vocal melisma. The other-wordly lyrical motifs support this sound, resulting in a powerful literature-esque allegorical creation. 

“The lyrical themes were influenced by material from Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Asimov and Frank Herbert,” says Buell. 

Buell explains that they also were influenced by film scores of all genres including works by composers Vangelis, John Carpenter and Jeremy Schmidt, reflected in the cinematic effect throughout this album. And while this album could be read as a concept album, it wasn’t necessarily intended to be. 

“There are common sonic and lyrical themes that unify it in such a way where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” says Buell. “That might indicate that it’s a concept album. But we didn’t go into it with the intention of writing one either. So maybe the listeners can decide.”

Astral Hand’s darker sound developed naturally among the group – a gravitational pull of sorts – culminating in this debut album.

“Over three Calliope records, you can tell our sound had naturally been getting heavier over the years,” says Buell. “The band collectively has a vast reach in musical taste, which includes some heavy stuff on the rock and metal side. As we got older, I think we just started to care less about making music that’s more accessible to a wider audience and started making sounds that we wanted to be listening to.

The record was recorded and mixed by Howl Street Studio’s Shane Hochstetler, who Buell explains was a major part of creating the correct arrangements. The record was mastered by Justin Perkins and the beautiful album cover was created by New York artist Bruno Penabranca. 

You can stream Astral Hand’s Lords of Data on Spotify. The vinyl albums will be available for purchase on Mar. 18 through Romanus Records. This Friday, Mar. 10, Astral Hand will be playing their album release show at Cactus Club with support from Blood and Dead Feathers.