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Moon Letters - Until They Feel the Sun CD (album) cover


Moon Letters


Heavy Prog

3.91 | 27 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars "Moon Letters" is a Heavy Prog band that consists of 5 musicians culled from other Seattle based bands. They got together early in 2019 and produced their first album "Until They Feel the Sun" which was released in June of 2019. The album, which is available on CD and Bandcamp is self released. It is comprised of 10 tracks that vary from just over a minute to over 9 minutes and the total run time for the album is just over 49 minutes. The line-up for the band is John Allday (keyboards, vocals, trumpet), Mike Murphy (bass, vocals, trumpet), Kelly Mynes (drums, percussion), Michael Trew (vocals, flute), and Dave Webb (guitars). This is a concept album and the story is somewhat easy to follow, at least the basic idea of it, but unfortunately, I don't have any information about the full story.

The first 3 tracks range around the 3 minute mark. "Skara Brae" is the first track and introduces the album with a guitar riff which later gets joined by the rest of the band. The instrumental works to introduce the album with a melodic, but guitar-led track which gets heavier towards the end when a complex melody begins and brings the synths up closer. It then shifts to a short pastoral passage before finishing. Quite a lot going on for such a short track, but it gives you the feeling of being a prelude to the album. "On the Shoreline" continues with the pastoral feeling that the last track finished off with, flute and soft guitars. Vocals soon start with a pleasant, airy quality, and later joined by harmonics and contrasting vocal lines. The track develops into a the heavy prog sound as it continues, but ventures back to softer sounds with the flute, guitar and synth having some solo time. "What is Your Country" follows with sounds of seagulls and waves. Layers of unaccompanied harmonized vocals carry the track forward and are later joined by sparse percussion, bells and other natural effects, but remain mostly sparse. At the end, there is some atmospheric effects and piano as it fades out.

"Beware the Finman" begins a string of longer tracks, this one being almost 8 minutes. It starts with very heavy guitar, nearing the metal mark, but as other instruments joint, it becomes more like the heavy prog sound that they are designated after. There is a good mix of guitar and synth with clean and easy to understand vocals. Before it reaches 3 minutes, it goes into a long instrumental section that flows through some excellent progressive passages with a somewhat tricky rhythm and shifting melodies. Just before 5 minutes, things shift to a symphonic and softer sound as the synth and then later the guitar take liberties with the main theme with a great guitar solo at 6 minutes that finishes out the track.

"Those Dark Eyes" also nears the 8 minute mark. It begins a lot softer with plucked guitar strings and a warbly synth. Listening closely, you will hear whispered vocals as the instruments continue to build in strength slowly. After 2 minutes, the song explodes into life and grows until the full volume vocals come in supported by synths and guitars, then going into a stop/start progressive rhythm before quieting down to a swirling synth and soft guitars and airy vocals come in. The music eventually settles into an easy beat and a rich sound that becomes more palatial as it reaches a climax. The guitars announce a more standard section with some riffage and the synths play it's own improvised melody as a standard, moderate beat takes over. This section is one of the big hightlights of the album. Things slow back down when the vocals come back, accented by the guitars and a complex progressive passage which suddenly stops the song short.

"Sea Battle" comes next and is the longest track at 9 minutes. Beginning with atmospheric electronics, the plucked guitar notes come in playing a complex melody with the synths coming in. The dynamics and complexity let you know this is going to be a full bore progressive track. The vocals begin, strong and clear despite the heavy guitar supporting them. The music varies from soft to heavy passages remaining complex and ever changing. Some high caliber solos continue with several vocal breaks as needed. This is an excellent track which is highly progressive throughout and plenty of musical surprises that you don't always see coming. It would be impossible to explain away this track as it is too complex and dynamic ranging from pastoral to heavy metal throughout.

"The Tarnalin" returns to some shorter tracks, starting soft and becoming more complex later. It alternates as it goes on, but overall has a slower and steadier feel than the last track. It's still quite progressive however as all of the instruments are utilized well. The vocals follow a more melodic line, but still with some interesting twists thrown in. After 3 minutes, the trumpets come in as a guitar plays around their melodic pattern. Vocals come back close to the end and the track ends quietly. "It's All Around You" is very short with soft vocals and harmonies with soft guitars in this transitory track. There are thunder effects at the end. "The Red Knight" is heralded in with heavy guitars and faster drums with a synth joining before the vocals start. Progressive complexities return with this great track which is driven forward by a quick tempo. Another great guitar solo comes along during the instrumental break.

The album ends with "Sunset of Man", another track exceeding 7 minutes. The track starts softly with keys and flute playing together. After a minute, soft vocals come in and the music gets more passionate in the melodic line. Drums start churning up the intensity and then the full band kicks in. The overall feel is a moderate pace, but as it continues, it includes some progressive passages that suddenly speed up the tempo. There is a nice mix of synth and guitar, then the synth takes over the spotlight for a solo. Structured progressiveness brings up the intensity a few notches as the guitar, organ and flute mix things up a bit.

This is a very good album with plenty of progressive heaviness throughout, a lot of dynamic and tricky passages. It has everything that could make up a perfect progressive album, except for the fact that there is a lack of passion in most of the album and it feels a bit to technical in some places, but these are things that I feel will be less bothersome with repeated plays. The music sometimes doesn't flow as well as it could with some transitions feeling choppy, but I feel both of these things are quite minor and a lot of listeners might overlook this because the music itself is quite excellent. The vocals are great, I have no real complaints about them, and the use of harmonics is spot on. The album still gets 4 stars because it is a great effort, and remember, this is the first album these musicians have produced together, and it is quite impressive for a first album. There definitely is a lot of promise for this band and this album will make me look for more of their albums to come.

TCat | 4/5 |


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