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Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Reviews: Moon Duo, Wolves Like Us, Dahuz, Vagrant (Paul H, Manus & Matt)

Moon Duo: Stars Are The Light (Sacred Bones Records) [Paul Hutchings]

The enchantment that Portland’s Moon Duo cast with their double release Occult Architecture Vol I and II in 2017 shows no sign of stopping with album number 7, Stars Are The Light. Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada have provided another journey into the land of psychedelic drone but this time have elected for a lighter more ethereal touch. Dual harmonies have always been a feature of the band and that remains the case for this release. Simple electronic beats, repeated rhythms and space rock effects all remain at the core of the band’s sound. Whilst there appears a gentler sound than recent albums, there is still enough here to entrance and entrap the listener. 7/10

Wolves Like Us: Brittle Bones (Pelagic Records) [Manus Hopkins]

The fifth album is one of the most important in a band’s career. It is where many bands establish themselves as mainstays rather than fads. For Norwegian hard rockers Wolves Like Us, album number five, Brittle Bones, is a pivotal release with the longevity of the group’s career riding on it. Especially now, going into the 2020s, Wolves Like Us must prove that they can last past the decade in which they debuted. Musically, Brittle Bones lives up to its potential. It’s refreshing to hear such straight-up hard rock in 2019, rather than something with weird styles that don’t work mixed in to make it stand out or watered-down boy band music existing under pretenses of being rock music. Within the first three tracks, the bar is set, and the entire record is packed with hard-hitting bangers, but also makes fine uses of melodic elements. A solid record, overall, and one that will prove Wolves Like Us are good enough to stick around a while. 8/10

Dahuz: S/T (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Three tracks all clocking in with long run times and you get the debut EP of spacey prog doom of Southern France's Dahuz. The creeping sci-fi sounding Minos (about the Minotaur) opens with some slogging riffs and occasionally reverbed vocals meaning that this album is mostly instrumental as it drags the riffs from the bottom end of given by Alexandre Culoma who links with drummer Guillaume Spinetta. It's the guitar of Emmanuel Cadman that gives this album it's space rock sounds on tracks such as Behemoth which is the longest track on the album full of ambient tremolo guitars. For a debut EP it's ok, the sci-fi parts enhance it but it is atypical doom/stoner. 6/10

Vagrant: Rise Of The Norn (Black Lion Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Formed in 2016, Vagrant are badged as symphonic epic folk death metal. It’s already sounding less than appealing to me. A mix of genres all of which have their place within the metal world. Whether they should be allowed to interbreed is open to question because I have to say that whilst this has echoes of Wintersun, Amorphis and Insomnium in parts, it is really challenging to listen to. The combination of death metal vocals, the symphonic sections and the raging death metal are awkwardly positioned, uncomfortably located and without exception devoid of cohesion. One of the weakest releases I’ve heard for several months. Sorry. 3/10

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