What a pleasant surprise! I read the promo and with the genre-standard comparisons to DREAM THEATRE, SYMPHONY X, and EVERGREY, I really was given no reason for particular hope. Well, good things come in unassuming packages it seem. MOONLIGHT AGONY’s “Silent Waters” is the first Progressive Metal album of 2007 to really get my attention and probably the best I’ve heard since MEYVN’s last full-length.
The album kicks off on a strong rolling EVERYGREY-style under an explosive guitar solo. After a stalking multi-layered introduction, vocalist Dan Åkesson does his best Hansi Kürsch impression. The Power Metal influence is obvious here, but the odd keyboard solo three-quarters of the way through, along with other bits, keeps it in the Progressive category. “You Betrayed Me” is fast and heavy, which somehow incorporates a calm piano interlude that leads into a group chorus that wouldn’t be out of place in a song by EINHERJER or some other Viking Metal band. That really caught my attention when I first heard it. Also watch for the great guitar solo by Kristian Niemann (THERION, DEMONOID). They probably get the fastest on “I’m Alive” and “Solemn Waters” opens with a blast of symphonic Black Metal, a song which also features the wonderful vocals of Sara Kvist.
There are a few downsides. The chorus to “Soulless” lags a bit and “Through The Desert Storm” is in general a bit of an uninteresting misstep, though both have some nice drum work from Robert Willstedt. At times I also wish for a more forceful voice than Åkesson’s; his vocal style is befitting a normal Progressive Metal band, but since this music goes beyond the regular Progressive boundaries, it can at times fall short.
This is really what more Progressive Metal bands should be shooting for; passion and heaviness, anger and a strong technical ability. MOONLIGHT AGONY has given us a really good album that should get every Prog fans’ attention. If you like EVERGREY or SYMPHONY X or just want some well-written, passionate progressive music, “Silent Waters” is definitely an album that should make its way into your collection.
(Online May 29, 2007)