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Dan Swanö - Moontower CD (album) cover

MOONTOWER

Dan Swanö

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.84 | 30 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

J-Man
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Neo Prog with a Death Metal Vocalist

Dan Swanö refers to Moontower as if "Rush played death metal in the 70's". While I do partially agree with this, I think this album has many neo-prog tendencies reminding me of Marillion. I hear various Rush influences, but I think Marillion also played a major influence in this album as well.

Musically, this alum is unique. This screams 80's neo prog, but with a heavy death metal edge. This sounds like a crossover between his Edge of Sanity and Unicorn projects. I enjoy both of those bands, so this album came naturally to me. I was immediately captured by the excellent synths and organs that play a major part in this album. The melodies are strong, the musicianship is excellent, and the arrangements are unique and satisfying.

My only real problem with this album is the lack of variation. All of the songs are arranged exactly the same. While I do enjoy the sound of these songs, this is a prime example of "overkill". If there would have been more variation in the arrangements of some of these tracks, my enthusiasm would be much higher.

Still, this is a highly enjoyable and energetic album. If you're into prog metal and you can find yourself a copy of this album, I highly recommend you do so. The fact that Dan Swanö plays everything on this album shows what a musical genius he is. This is technically his only "solo" album, though he has had various other albums led mostly by himself.

THE MUSIC

"Sun of the Night"- The first song opens up with a synth line and guitar riffing. Immediately you can tell that this isn't your typical album. It is prog rock with death metal vocals. The melodies are really good here, mostly due to the solid keyboard playing from Dan Swanö. I love the heavy organ parts in contrast to the guitar riffs and synth lines.

"Patchworks"- This opens up with similar arrangements to the previous song. Organ, guitar riffs, synthesizers and growled vocals. Musically, this has some really good moments. I don't think it's the best from the album, though, as it can be pretty forgettable.

"Uncreation"- This is the song that got me to buy the album. I heard this song and I fell in love. I still love everything about the song, especially the excellent melodies. The synthesizers fit the song perfectly. Little did I know that all of the songs would have almost the same exact arrangements. The use of this formula in almost every song is a little overkill, and it loses it's luster after a few listens to the entire album. Still, this song is excellent and a highlight on the album for sure.

"Add Reality"- This song opens up with a light piano melody. Soon the song goes into full force. It has growling and similar arrangements to the rest of the song. I really like the melody to this song, though. There is a piano section near the end that goes into the first section with clean vocals on the album. I honestly wish there would have been more sections like that on this album. I think clean vocals fit this type of music much better than harsh growls. I love the outro to this song.

"Creating Illusions"- This song opens up with heavy organ and growling. The organ is a nice touch and the chords are very catchy. It has a short instrumental section in the middle that's really excellent. It progresses into a very atmospheric section. It then reprises the beginning.

"The Big Sleep"- The first notes of this song are from a synthesizer and heavy guitar riffing. This song is largely boring and unexciting. I enjoy some parts, but this is largely unmemorable. Also, by the time you're this far in the album the formula gets a little old.

"Encounterparts"- This is the only instrumental on the album, and it doesn't disappoint. The musicianship is excellent, especially when you realize one man is playing all of the instruments. This is filled with great riffs, solid melodies, and excellent keyboards as well. This is a highlight from the album. This is a good breaking point because it's different from the other songs. If this was another synth driven prog metal song with death metal vocals in a verse-chorus-verse style I would be getting a little frustrated.

"In Empty Phrases"- A guitar riff begins this song. It soon turns into a Rush-influenced section with growled vocals. The songwriting is very good, and I really like some of the melodies. The arrangements are the same as the rest of the album, but somehow the great music keeps this closing track from being trivial.

Conclusion:

Moontower is a good album from a musician who has done better. This is exceptionally melodic for a Swanö album, and if you're looking for one of his more progressive rock driven albums, this is a good place to turn. I wish this album would be a little more varied though. The same formula is used in all of the songs, so it can tire after about 10 listens. Still, the formula is unique and satisfying, so it's not that much of a flaw in this album. If you're looking for a heavy Swanö production in the vein of this album, I would get Edge of Sanity's Crimson II album. It's synth driven, heavy, very melodic, and is a much stronger album in my opinion. Still, this is a good album that I would recommend to any Dan Swanö fan, though I don't think it's essential by any means. A three star rating is deserved.

3 stars.

J-Man | 3/5 |

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