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Since the birth of Cosmic Lava in 1999, I haven't received much music from Russia for whatever reasons. Thus, I was very pleased when I got an registered letter from there that included the first full-length from THE GRAND ASTORIA. Of course I had never heard of this band and thatfor I was very curious to hear what these four guys have to offer. After an instrumental intro named 'The Art Of Communication With Aliens' soaked in Hawkwind's acid-infected blood, it gets really going with 'Evolution Of The Planet Groove'. Don't worry, the music is not as bad as the song titles. This track is a solid bluesy mid-tempo rocker that sounds like a cross between Nebula and later Eternal Elysium. Nice, but nothing more. 'All The Same' is considerably more interesting and for the first time I notice that Kamille Sharapodinov is a very talented guitarist. Especially his solos shine through that song and his playing is definitely better than his singing.

On the other hand I have listened to much worser vocalists. Furthermore, the band has integrated more influences and proves that there's no fear of an affinity to funk. However, the highlight is the next song 'The Man. The Sun. The Desert'. No, it has nothing to do with Kyuss and its associates, but shows another side from THE GRAND ASTORIA. That is definitely their most beautiful side for my taste. In the first half of the song the band is in the field of classic rock and again K. Sharapodinov demonstrates his impressive skills. But then suddenly after about seven minutes the song morphs into a thrash metal-like part. Here again, the group won me over with their intuitive feeling for powerful riffs and also not to forget their solid craftmanship. THE GRAND ASTORIA won't change anything in the world of heavy rock and there's still room for improvement, but it should not be forgotten that this is their debut. A song like 'The Man. The Sun. The Desert' is definitely highly promising and it would be nice when the band would continue from there.