Do you long for the time Chuck Schuldiner was still alive and Mikael Åkerfledt still had balls? If the answer is ‘yes’ on both counts (which, y’know, it should be), then Barcelona’s MOONLOOP will put a big fat smile on your ugly mug. One really cannot get past the similarities these Catalans’ music bear to DEATH and OPETH, as “Deeply From The Earth” could easily have slotted in between “My Arms, Your Hearse” and “Still Life”, with a good helping of latter day DEATH sprinkled on top.
It sounds like a tantalizing sonic brew, and it is. These Catalans have been around since about 2001 but it took them quite some time to actually put out a full-length proper. They’ve been perfecting their craft over various demos and EPs, though, so the songs on here are clearly the work of a well-heeled well-oiled machine. I don’t know whether the band had deliberately named themselves after PORCUPINE TREE’s ’94 EP, but it wouldn’t surprise me since they clearly have a flair for the more progressive side of the spectrum. Oodles of stupendous time changes, multiple vocal styles, and liberal doses of flashy guitar leads abound but there is enough connecting tissue to keep everything ticking along in a sensible manner, and while some songs do tend to be a bit too long in places the album remains an exciting listen all the way through.
This is one of those albums that works best when taken as a whole, so don’t expect too many individual highlights. Morsels of Proggy/tech-y Death Metal goodness are littered all over the place here, from the huge-sounding (a la GOJIRA) intro piece, to the very OPETHian “Deceiving Time” and “Atlantis Rising”, to the more straightforward Death assault of “Legacy Of Fear”. Structure-wise the main influence is definitely the aforementioned OPETH (also in terms of the clean/harsh vocal interplay), while many of the riffs are cut from classic DEATH, and the more space-y leads bring to mind a band like DECREPIT BIRTH.
All in all a great album, and one more kick-ass addition to what is already a banner year for Tech/Prog Death Metal. Like I said, some songs do tend to drag a bit towards the end, and while the vocals are deftly handled not all the clean ones are all that memorable, but these are really my only gripes with what is otherwise a great album by a very promising band.
(Online June 13, 2012)