Moon Tooth
Violent Grief: Acoustic Selections


4.5
superb

Review

by SitarHero CONTRIBUTOR (67 Reviews)
August 1st, 2020 | 26 replies


Release Date: 06/31/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: MT: Unplugged

Only ‘90s Kids(tm) will remember the visceral impact of MTV Unplugged. While all-acoustic albums weren’t uncommon, Unplugged turned the format into a art form in and of itself, offering fans the chance to see and hear their favourite artists strip back the bells and whistles—the distorted guitars, the quick-cut music video camerawork, the stagecraft and shape-throwing—to their core elements of songwriting, musicianship, and emotive ability. At their best, the Unplugged sessions were unforgettable performances that fed the mythos of the artists and became must-have additions to their catalogues. Eric Clapton’s naked grief and vulnerability in the wake of his son’s tragic death; Layne Staley’s haunting voice rising like a phoenix from the ashes of his wasted body in his final live performance with Alice in Chains; Jay Z establishing himself as the biggest “rockstar” on the planet with an assist from The Roots; Kurt Cobain and Nirvana's most iconic live performance; these are just some of the enduring pop culture landmarks that litter MTV Unplugged’s legacy.[1] And, while Unplugged might be long gone, its legacy lives on in millions of outstanding YouTube covers and, now, Moon Tooth’s Violent Grief.

Violent Grief finds Moon Tooth reimagining a selection of four standout tracks from their breakout sophomore LP, 2019's Crux, and adding a new song titled “Six of Swords”. It shouldn’t be surprising that, given their musical virtuosity, Moon Tooth take to the acoustic format like Hunter S. Thompson to cocaine, but it’s still impressive just how well they pull it off. The re-worked songs aren’t radical departures from the original versions; “Trust” and “Awe At All Angles” are slightly mellower counterparts to their balls-to-the-wall original avatars while “Motionless in Sky” and “Through Ash” are turned from gorgeous winding epics into more introspective, but no less gorgeous, epics. But while the acoustic treatment doesn’t change the songs radically, it does wonders to accentuate their composition and songwriting.

Unsurprisingly, guitarist Nick Lee—already quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting and original guitarists in the metal world—is more than equal to the challenge of driving the songs without an overdriven amp at hand. He displays incredible physical and musical dexterity, filling out the songs with lush extended chords, cascading finger-picked arpeggios, and even a little countrified flamenco flair. The acoustic format is a little more restrictive to the rhythm section of drummer/producer Ray Marte and bassist Vincent Romanelli, but they play their roles with grace and taste, providing the rhythmic and harmonic foundation that allows Lee to soar. But as good as the instrumentalists are, vocalist John Carbone steals the show. He somehow finds an extra gear on Violent Grief, ramping up the intensity and dynamics of the already acrobatic vocal performances on Crux. The notes he hits on the final chorus of “Trust”, and his effortless switching from low croon to falsetto to belted notes on “Six of Swords”—accompanied by hypnotic arpeggios, haunting cellos countermelodies, and some exotic percussion—are spine-tingling in their raw power. “Six of Swords’ ” only fault is that it is more of a slow burn and less immediate than the other songs, but proves to be no less charming.

Violent Grief's one flaw is that, assuming you've already listened to Crux, Moon Tooth maybe stuck a little too close to the songs' original arrangements and, apart from Carbone’s vocal performance, don’t really explore any new dimensions on the re-worked songs. If you've never heard of Moon Tooth this is a great, though very unrepresentative, introduction to the band, but otherwise Violent Grief won’t offer many real surprises. On the other hand, this familiarity, complemented by Marte’s excellent production, gives the album a comfortingly warm and earthy atmosphere which, given the current state of the world, was maybe the band's intention all along. The first seven months of 2020 may have robbed us of summer barbecues, traditional family camping trips, and a life without facing the realities of police brutality and economic collapse, but Violent Grief harks back to a world that, even if it wasn’t really simpler, sure felt like it. A world that only ‘90s Kids(tm) will remember.

Album stream/download here: https://moontoothny.bandcamp.com/
"Awe At All Angles (Acoustic)" video: https://youtu.be/Ai0Gq7_U4AQ
"Six of Swords" video: https://youtu.be/mpoKtH1Fu8U

[1] Rolling Stone’s list of the best 15 MTV Unplugged episodes:
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/mtv-unplugged-the-15-best-episodes-119361/nirvana-1993-120726/



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user ratings (11)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2020


12409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Moon Tooth: Oonplooged



Damn you, bootbooy!

LeddSledd
August 1st 2020


2105 Comments


will have to check

heard the Awe at All Angles acoustic and loved it, had no idea there would be an acoustic EP

Digging: Palm Reader - Sleepless

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2020


12409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For sure man. The whole whole EP is gorgeous.

LeddSledd
August 1st 2020


2105 Comments


Guitar work is incredible. Gotta say that I still prefer Carbone's wilder vocal performances but for a toned-down acoustic this works very well.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2020


12409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He puts in some pretty wild performances on here. The end of Trust was crazy.

Inoculaeted
August 2nd 2020


484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a really excellent write-up SitarHero. Would Pos. One thing: "harks back" might need to be "hearkens back". I could be wrong.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2020


12409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Inoculaeted! I had to double check, but it looks like the term is so archaic that apparently every form of harks back/harkens back is now essentially valid :]

Inoculaeted
August 3rd 2020


484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Harks back to a time when harks and hearkens coexisted in harmony. This is a nice little EP. It really is a showcase for the guitar and vocals. I think there’s an explosiveness about Crux that was morphed here and it’s not a bad thing at all...just a totally different vibe.

Kompys2000
August 3rd 2020


4976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice write-up Sitar, Moon Tooth crew stays winning



I gotta say Six of Swords blows away everything else here though, it was clearly composed with the acoustic arrangement in mind and it shows. The other tracks are definitely cool reinterpretations but not exactly essential listening imo

Digging: Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2020


12409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

6oS is definitely written for the acoustic setting, and I'll take new music in any form from theses guys, but I don't know if it being specifically written as an acoustic song necessarily makes it better as an acoustic song. But as always, they didn't pull any punches with it and it's definitely a unique entity with a character much different from the other songs.

Kompys2000
August 3rd 2020


4976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's true yeah, also obviously I'm super biased because all the songs off Crux are ingrained in my soul at this point so a different version of one of those songs probably has unrealistic standards to live up to for me lol

Kompys2000
August 3rd 2020


4976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Like 6oS probably benefitted a lot from being the only song here where I couldn't think about how it was """supposed""" to sound different

butt.
August 4th 2020


8056 Comments


Nice revioo Sitoo Heroo

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2020


12409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks butt.



"Like 6oS probably benefitted a lot from being the only song here where I couldn't think about how it was """supposed""" to sound different"



Yeah it's hard not to compare the other songs to the original versions, which is why Carbone getting crazy with the vocals on Trust was a great touch.

TeenaLisba
August 12th 2020


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, I like it.

Inoculaeted
August 14th 2020


484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I’m really warming up to a lot of these adaptations. Through Ash in particular works fantastically. A great song is apparently still great without distortion.

Kompys2000
August 14th 2020


4976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Through Ash acoustic is like a 9.5/10 but the og crux version is like a 15/10

Kompys2000
August 14th 2020


4976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yknow what fuck it I'll 4.5 this bad boy, Moon Tooth deserves it

Inoculaeted
August 14th 2020


484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That’s a worthy bump. I’m leaving that window cracked open just a smidge until the inevitable day when I declare this band to be the most underrated hotness happening.

Inoculaeted
September 24th 2020


484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhAYuF5D8sA



NOW



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