Elder, Black Sabbath, Black Pyramid
Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and has plenty to offer as it’s the home of The Brewers, Bucks and the classic fine line of Miller brews. Now we have emerging from this fine city is Moon Curse, a three-piece stoner rock/doom band. Comprised of Matt (vocals and guitar), Keith (drums, Hammond) and Rochelle (bass) these three have brought upon us a well-structured and well written heavy debut self-titled album. In this era of stoner rock and doom it is quite difficult to create an album that is fresh and drifts away from the pack. Yes there are influences to be heard here, because it’s virtually impossible not to get caught up comparing them to the likes of Black Sabbath or even Elder and others within this genre. Moon Curse have done a fine job of injecting enough of their own swagger into this one, helping them stand out enough to get noticed.
They begin the album with a bludgeoning Sabbathy riff on the 5:41 minutes long "Medicine Coma". It will have you intrigued than on a flip of a dime the rhythm takes natural turn into a bouncy, stoner rock vibe. Matt’s vocals are fitting for this style of music; they are powerful and distinct without being overdone. The drums and bass provide a strong foundation and the guitar is very smooth at times. It’s a great opening cut that will have you pumped for what is about to come your way. Track two, the 7:41 minute "Northern High" is an instant classic for us and we have no doubt it will make it into our top songs of the year list. Let’s start with the laid-back, stoner driven vibe, as it just flows through you speakers flawlessly. The aquatic, easy going vocals are reminiscent of the band Sungrazer or a subdued young Ozzy, bringing this song to another level. The rhythmic changes are very fluent here, at 4:00 minute mark the pace picks up a bit than it gets even better when the KATAONIA-like guitars develop, a big plus for us. The song than kicks back into the stoner driven vibe from the beginning… it all has come full circle.
Can they continue on this pace? Yes they certainly do with the bonus cut "Seminary Woods," which appears only on the vinyl edition. This one is a steady, heavy thick song with a pounding authority. The vocals are a bit muffled which helps create a lo-fi live sound. The addition of the background scowls help bring a sense of rich heaviness. Moving onto "Brontis," this one exudes a Graveyard or Kadavar-like bluesy structure. It’s a welcome addition to the album, showcasing the bands ability to break free from the stoner/doom feel. The next track "Chantra" is a well-timed short organ intro leading us to the final song "Black Elk," and this one is surprisingly uplifting. The organ continues as it is nested underneath the free spirited, inspiring rhythm. The song goes through various evolutions of heavy and soft structures as it progresses and the vocals follow suite and are very powerful when needed. The song will eventually carry us out to close with echoed sludgy vocals and a doom riff to match… very well done.
While Moon Curse does not break barriers in the stoner rock world, they have a formula that sets them apart. It’s a very impressive debut album that should turn heads their way. Maybe it’s time for a road trip to Milwaukee, grab some cold ones and catch them on tour in their home. - 10/29/2014
Standout Tracks: Northern High, Brontis