The German band Lunar Shadow crossed my hawse a few times before. But never at very high levels of intensity. Yet, they always appeared on our metal radar as a pretty competent band with a somewhat old-style rock and metal offering.
An outfit that improved with age as they worked on their skills over the years. A positive development in the making, with a ton of potential for success on the horizon. Yet again, they never quite made it onto the blog and we – thus – never turned the merciless RMR spotlight on this band. In hindsight, perhaps we should have, but there is nothing that cannot be remedied later.
So far so good, right? Well, Wish to Leave comes as yet another 2021 spring surprise to our review pipe. If it’s going to be a good one remains to be seen. But this is the first review this band gets, and – perhaps – it’s also the last. But whatever we have to say is unencumbered by the pretty successful past Lunar Shadow may have enjoyed until recently.
It appears that Max Birbaum decided to take a 90° left turn and – go somewhere else with the band. A stark departure from former metal glories to a stripped-down future of straightforward rock or post-rock, if you will. And the band members also fully recognize that this action will (or might) lose them some of their fans in the process. To get there, the band leader apparently erred about his native city during nighttime and got his ideas for a new record from these lonely excursions. So, the name of the album may very well be an omen in more ways than one.
In other words, the metal of former times pretty much left the building and is now replaced by some sort of an early ’80s retro rock version. Something that wants to be stoner, but isn’t. A no-fuzz zone in search of this good ol’ fuzzy groove, yet it never quite gets there. And that’s not for lack of trying.
And methinks that somebody forgot to turn that metal tap off and take a breather. Because there’s so much Iron Maiden in there, you wonder where this is actually going. The opening riff on Delomelanicon would speak well for that, plus a few other instances on this record. Not to forget the frequent jabs at early Black Sabbath that often contain this almost embarrassing copy of Ozzy’s infamous whine.
In other words, once the heavy-filter was out of the mix, the band just carried on and made metal. With some watery growls included, as in To Dusk And I Love You.
That said, Wish to Leave now presents a style so barebone, it starts to resemble the punkier realms of the rock multiverse. A fact that goes well with the slim 36 minutes of airtime the record boasts. Which in and by itself is not a bad thing, just sayin’. Yet, the somewhat simple1) song structures and melodies sometimes crazily reminded us of Krautrock bands like Jane. Another one of those gigs that should be dead for a long time but ain’t.
Now, all of the above does not mean that you’ll find a lack of musical prowess, far from it. The riffs and solos are first-rate and the vocals right on top. Yet again, the rich metal screams often don’t quite sync with the frugal style the band now tries to portray so hard.
Ultimately, Wish to Leave really encompasses this desire to leave the ship and explore richer pastures. I just hope that their boat is firmly docked to dry land, else they’ll find themselves floating in the wide ocean. Because – frankly – this is a record of hot and cold, a piece still in search of direction and purpose. The band stated that they are – and I quote – “…all but leaving behind the firebrand power and black metal mix…”. But I beg to differ. There’s loads of alloy still in this record, just without the heavy filter.
Now, all of that doesn’t suddenly turn Wish to Leave into a bad record. Nor will it confine Lunar Shadow to the 10th circle of hell because they tried to leave the sacred fire of metal lore. And in truth, their wares are darkly alluring and almost melancholic in nature. A welcome change to the pigheaded approach metal often takes.
But if you want to mark real change, you really need to go all the way of that 90° turn.2) Sitting it out at 60,5° and hoping it will appease some of your fans better will only confuse folks. It’s either all or nothing.
And that’s the point.