At times my metal-sore ears just give up the ghost and are in dire need of something more melodious and less harsh. So, there is no better treatment than slapping some progressive and alternative Band-Aid on them. And indeed, the RMR deck crew finds that those undercurrents finally take on some steam. Luckily so, as the officescape kind of worried what was about to come still in 2017. Apart from blackened pieces of scorched metal, of which there is plenty these days. Yet still some doubts persists on what exactly is to come.
Thus any good and technically outstanding production is welcome these days. Because – so I hear with trepidation – Steven Wilson and his newest record due out this year is more on the poppy side than anything else. And let us see if his new concoction can blow Hand. Cannot. Erase. out of the water. Also, Leprous should get a new magic potion out once these days. This following their abominable djent-monster The Congregation that yours truly had a few issues with. Not many, I admit, but a few still.
So – to our relief – along came the US-based Moon Haven with their new début album Monochrome Reflections. By Loki, this record is a comparably quiet, yet astute piece of Progressive and Alternative Rock. The album has this tendency to suck you in the way Gentle Knife does and scatters passages strikingly reminiscent of The Reticent all across the record. And this means emotion. Yet, whereas the latter splatters you brutally with a firehose of tear-drenched passion, Moon Haven nicely waves them into their tune on this album.
Let me also commend the lyrics on this record, which really take center-stage and integrate well into the overall tune. Indeed, many a progressive or alternative rock band either tells a story or get themselves going on issues that concern them. And Monochrome Reflections is no different. The band projects some sort of thoughtful thoughtfulness that is quite astonishing on matters important to them. This contrasts with a great many of other bands where words are added as an afterthought. Or so it seems, even if they would vehemently deny this of course.
I also like the quiet flow prevalent on the album. And same as with Moon Haven‘s emotional side, the thing with the flow is different. It is not this almost overwhelming torrent of sound and directly interconnected tracks some of their metal brethren displayed lately. In Monochrome Reflections you kick-start your earphones, kind of sit back and relax just to find that half the track list just passed by without you noticing. That is what I call immersion with the songs flowing into each other like blobs of black ink on a shiny surface.
Evil tongues will say that endless repetitions and a boring sound structure bring this about. And some of the alternative and progressive folks are truly guilty of that. But not Moon Haven, who mostly kept out of that specific trap by keeping their tracks relatively short. Yet, they do not sail very far from these treacherous shores after all neither. Some of them songs ail from over-simplified or simplistic structures. Like with Cloudscape that still hangs by a thread on the good side of interesting. But really only just. And this brings about a certain lack of juice on some parts of the record. So, maybe too much quiet may not be all that cool after all. However, this is small potatoes in the greater scheme of things and no record on this blog has so far really been perfect yet.
Usually intros are a friggin’ waste of good disc real estate. On this album however the gods of coherence and creativity shall forgive and forget. For the piano and monologue intro actually makes sense and nicely leads into Monochrome Reflections. And immediately afterwards Moon Haven up the ante with a much crunchier Veil of Grey.
The mix between soft’n’silky and more substantial rock keeps this soundscape interesting. And it is this hot and cold treatment that turns out to be the essence of the record. You’ll get the softer parts of Rock, over jazzy and some folksy contributions, just to face some harsher sounds too. Like with da numba 4 of the track list called Transparent, where Monochrome Reflections garners some serious oomph. The rough, emotional freshness of this track washes a whiff of metal onto these rocky shores. This is offset with tracks like Luna that just serve as a splendid counterweight to some of the heaviness found.
Both of them tracks at the end of the album – by the way – will for sure retain your attention. The beautiful, kind of folksy melodies of Horizon and the aforementioned Luna and its airs of crafty soft rock would do well as a standalone too. And this last one really put a smile on my face.
The verdict? It is difficult to find fault with Monochrome Reflections. Moon Haven created an astute piece of Alternative and Progressive Rock that is quite impressive for a début full length album. Beautifully crafted for much of the record and professionally mixed and mastered, the band leads you through a succulent variety of rocky soundscapes. I really liked what came rolling down from the land of sun drenched rocks and saguaro cacti. Well done, band.
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook