Monday, 9 September 2013

Moonbow - The End of Time (album review)

Moonbow (not to be confused with Monobrow) makes a brisk business of country inflected hard rock.  In fact, the first sounds that greet the listener on their debut effort 'The End of Time' is that of a fiddle.  The hay and sawdust feel that comes across on Moonbow's 7 tracks shouldn't come as too big a surprise though.  The Kentucky-based quartet has a good deal of big-name fire power behind them as David McElfresh of Hank 3's band provides just the right dash of country and alt. metal to the mix while Paranoid favorites Valley of the Sun are represented by bassist Ryan McAllister.  The line-up is rounded out by Hermano drummer Steve Earle and smoke-stained vocalist Matt Bischoff of Survivor fame.  No, not a band, the show Survivor.  Yes.  Yes it is a bit strange.

Anyway, Moonbow elects to keep the stoner skillet on simmer at all times while focusing on a more classic rock sound.  It's a heavy sound, but never gratuitously so.  One of the heavier moments on the album comes when the band drops the bottom out on the breakneck tempo of "Journey of the Iron Horse".  The song then becomes the musical equivalent of a large, screaming man running at you, then proceeding to beat the living crap out of you.  Put that way it doesn't sound like an overly pleasant experience, but you can take it.  After all, this is hard rock, and we all know there's no crying in hard rock.

"Take It For Granted" features no less a rock n roll luminary on vocals than original desert rock vocalist John Garcia.  It's no brief cameo either as he commandeers the Moonbow ship for the entirety of the verse.  And it's no quick verse either!  What I'm saying here is, the band gets full value out of this guest appearance.  Good song too, they all are.

As of right now I've got these guys pegged as "ones to watch" because I feel like they've got a grand slam ahead of them.  'The End of Time' is more like a base hit.  It's good stuff but there's a bit of a catch 22 involved.  You get the feeling that Moonbow just got together, had a good time and recorded a bunch of songs that were aw-right in the moment.  That they were having a good time while making this record is palpable.  The catch is, I want to hear what these cats are capable of when they really get down to business and they never really get there on this record.  I'm not saying they need to suck all the fun out of it, but you can challenge yourself creatively and still have fun doing it.  I believe, that's going to be their next record and I've got a feeling it'll be a doozy, because I like what they put down and the potential is through the roof.  Then again, you knew that going in based on their pedigree.

'The End of Time' is a solid record and its constituent tracks will get good mileage on my mixed playlists over the coming months.  I wouldn't expect the next effort from these guys any time soon and 'The End of Time' should satisfy for now and keep them in the memory banks for when that time comes.  But, I'm telling you, the next one, it's gonna be something, I got that feeling ...

Highlights include: "The End of Time" and "Take It For Granted".

Rating: 3.5/5

Total Run Time: 31:24

From: Kentucky

Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner

Reminds me of: Lowburn, Mos Generator

Release Date: August 30, 2013

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