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A Silver Mt. Zion - 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons CD (album) cover

13 BLUES FOR THIRTEEN MOONS

A Silver Mt. Zion

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.64 | 58 ratings

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Moatilliatta
Prog Reviewer
4 stars *Anyone who reads the following review will notice that it doesn't agree with the star rating. Trust the rating if you're willing to listen to this album more than three times even if you don't like it any of the times. Trust the review if you aren't or absolutely hate Efrim's vocals and refuse to get used to them.*

Somebody stop Efrim! He is on the loose and he is lethal! Apparently nobody has convinced this group that they have terrible vocals, because each subsequent album boasts more of them. And boy, do they boast them! At least Isis knows their vocals are weak and so they bury them in the mix. This is such a shame, because musically the band keeps getting better. They have taken their sound to a completely new level - certainly seperating themselves from the inevitable Godspeed comparisons that they have been subject to since their former band's hiatus - and it really is quite awesome. So my feelings about their recent works are very mixed, because on one hand I want to give them praise for their vision and growth, but on the other hand the band should have the deceny to bring a quality vocalist on board. When the band first came about, I found Efrim's vocals strangely fitting for the group's sound. The emotion in "Movie (Never Made)" is so profound. But now the vocals are not solely used for emotional effect. The band has a message and a political agenda, and while they always have, apparently now it is important enough to fill their music with. And I would be fine with that if Efrim was not the only spokesperson. They could at the very least utilize their choir element a bit more, but the best case would be utilizing the choir more and bringing a second lead vocalist to share the parts with Efrim. I can't completely disparage him; he still fits a handful of parts.

Let's take a quick look at this album: upon first glance, you'll see that the format is much like This Is Our Punk-Rock... in that it has 4 extended pieces (between 13 and 17 minutes here), but the album has 12 tracks of noises leading up to the first song, which in light of the album title takes place on track 13. The music is a continuation in the direction they took on the aforementioned album, and really kind of resembles a mixture of that work and the subsequent Horses in the Sky. The first two tracks are pretty hard-rockin' pieces. The first one focuses a lot on chants, while the second is more of a solo vocal piece. The ideas presented are quite strong, but they suffer from being a bit too repetitive and then the dreadful excessive-Efrim-in-inappropriate-places sydrome that the band has recently come down with. But there is a light that is visible not too far from the end of the second song! After a weak vocal introduction in the third song, the band starts hitting random notes for a bit in a way that sounds like they're getting 'it' of their system. I don't know what exactly that means in this case, but the section is a bit random. Then finally, the band eases up and lets you enjoy their emotional music prowess. The second half has a little climax and everything in true post-rock fashion, and Efrim's vocals work. The last track, "BlindBlindBlind," manages to be the best track. From the softly strummed guitar and bowed strings to the minimalistic pizzacto strings portion in the middle to the mild climactic ending, this is piece makes the most out of the least. Ostensibly, the band put the least thought into this song, but unfortunately most of the thoughts put into the other songs weren't of much value in the end.

The band has the right ideas, but the application of those ideas still needs some work. It would be more worth your while to pick up the two album preceding this to get the proper effect of their recent vision. Hopefully they will get it right next time, because if they do, the result will be stunning.

Moatilliatta | 4/5 |

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