“We went through maybe 100 band names and fought over who liked what,” says guitar player and vocalist Rob Zawistowski, about the origins of Astrakhan’s band name. “Then I was reading an article about Cossack rule over Astrakhan, a Russian city near the Caspian Sea, and it sounded interesting and it just stuck with me. Everyone else seemed to like it too.”

While Vancouver’s Astrakhan may have only formed a little under two years ago, they have quickly become a strong presence in the local metal scene. The guys’ previous musical incarnations, along with band mates Adam Young (guitar), Jerome Brewer (drums), and Dustan Toth (bass and vocals), helped them develop their relationships within the city’s tight knit metal community.

“It’s a lot of the same people at all the shows [because] that’s the metal show going on that night,” says Toth. “It’s a good way for the scene to support itself especially when venues are closing down. There’s still going to be people who are going to be supportive no matter what.”

The group’s second record, the two-song EP The Pillarist, is already garnering them praise for its technically sound arrangements, showing the band’s evolution since their first self-titled EP. Striking riffs contrast the overall heaviness of their sound, while maintaining a solid groove throughout the record. Working on the album as a group allowed them to delve deeper and carve out what they feel is Astrakhan’s sound in this solid sophomore effort.

“We went into this band with a pretty solid idea of what we wanted to do,” Zawistowski says. “[We wanted] a general sense of focus and a sound that had purpose and a cohesiveness through it, and I think with this record we just released we’ve finally started to accomplish that a bit more.”

Astrakhan plays the Art Signified One Year Anniversary show on January 10-11, 2014 at the Astoria.

By Brnesh Berhe

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