These days, it’s not uncommon for bands to start taking inspiration and influences from the decades which helped create, diversify and cement rock and metal as genres. Many of the doom bands dip into the proto-metal and blues laden classic rock sounds to augment their own styles, progressive rock is as long-lived as some of its songs are long winded and progressive metal does regularly pay tribute to those who laid the foundations for them in the past. So what happens when you mix the psychedelic-prog of the late 60’s with the proto-metal styling’s of the 70’s, add in some modern progressive metal influences and hold it all together with a mild air of pretentiousness, intended or accidental consequence? You end up with something which this Milwaukee 4-piece has created. With a diverse list of influences cited by the band; ranging from Rush to Celtic Frost, Bathory to Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden to Venom, Lost Tribes Of The Moon have a lot to work with and also a hell of a lot to deliver.
So when their full length release is six tracks, three of which are actual songs and the other three are instrumental sequences, bookends and transition tracks, things seem to start on patchy ground. The compositional quality is there, the opening/closing pair of tracks are dynamic, atmospheric and have a haunting feel to their progression, all be it, they are very heavy on the occult symbolism and religious connections with the naming (Rise & Fall of Midian/In Search Of A New Midian), they could have easily been absorbed into the tracks either side of them to simply extend their length or give them more relevance. The same can be said of “Ka-Tet”, a short instrumental which links tracks 3 and 5, ultimately leading to the opinion that these tracks could have just been combined into one… And on that note, given the flow and composition of the album, the entire release could have been made into one long track.
I may have went a little off point there, but that is the type of pretentiousness i mentioned before, something most progressive bands suffer from – over indulgence and being too lost in their own ideas. One track of solid substance, or six loosely separated musical entities which have tight continuity to the composition and flow, in the end it has the same result, it just makes more of a talking point.
Musically, the three tracks with actual substance are all lengthy pieces. “Wych Elm”, “Revenant” and the eponymous track all pack heavy doses of atmospheric progressive metal, mixing rawness and power with meticulous composition and atmospheric intensity. From the crisp overdrive to the bone shaking distortion, the cutting and clear lead tones to the jangling acoustic and haunting Theremin, it all fits together nicely. Janine Marie’s Soft and seductive vocals flow similarly to those of Psychedelic Witchcraft’s Virginia Monti one moment and then explode to life in that Plant-esque powerful wail, the guitars surround and adapt, going from smothering to piercing and the bass and drums stand firm, holding it all together. It all fits together, surging in intensity and smothering with atmosphere, and musically, the end results justify the pretentiousness eluded to earlier. All the influences the band have cited can be heard and the way they have been combined does have a unique feel to it, even if in places it does seem predictable given the way the composition readily unfolds itself as you listen; those moments of suspense don’t have quite the explosive payoff you would imagine initially, instead you rise up with it and expect the heavy riffs or the blistering leads, the haunting sounds don’t keep you wondering what will come next, they simply guide you along.
In this band’s search for their Midian, Lost Tribes Of The Moon have laid a solid trail which you can follow, but whilst there are some spots which have promise, ultimately, the journey is one which many bands of this style have taken before, making it easier to arrive at the destination in little time.