Review Summary: Gentle headbanging under the moonlight.
The new wave of British heavy metal never fully withdrew back to where it come from. The effects of the splash all over Europe still linger many years later, with a whole new generation trying to keep the scene alive and kicking while reliving those days as if time had stopped permanently on the age of tights and hair spray.
Germany has never hidden its love for the NWOBHM. They even took it to further limits, as it was the case for the reinvented Scorpions, during their successful trek through the 80s following after their prog phase, or the legendary Helloween, founders of heavy metal's caffeine-loaded cousin known as speed metal. Lunar Shadow is one of those bands that wouldn't mind to go back to those sweet times, the days when you would buy an album solely based on either the cover art, the hair length of the dudes on the back cover, or a song you heard on the radio purely by accident, and they have stated so through their music from the very beginning.
The Germans started their journey in 2017 with Far From Light
, a prominent and highly acclaimed debut of carefully elaborated guitar harmonies, double bass drum mania and choruses worth reaching for the sky. The Smokeless Fires
followed a couple of years later with exactly the same formula. It was even more aggressive, with blast beats and speedy riffs dragging the band into soft and gentle black and death metal territory while preserving their NWOBHM essence on top. This sophomore was clearly signaling that Lunar Shadow was a force to be reckoned with, while also being the wet dream of every time-stuck heavy metal revivalist.
Wish to Leave
is the band's third affair and it immediately raises several questions. First of all, they somehow managed to get a thinner overall sound that I'm not sure it benefits the thunderstruck production of old. This album does sound weaker, but it's not the only thing that has mysteriously flattened out. Forget about those highly flammable riffs of The Smokeless Fires
, you won't find them here. Lunar Shadow's latest release seems to drink from the nocturnal blood of darkwave and gothic post punk, after having extinguished almost all the fires that powered them in previous outings.
However, it is a nice touch, to be fair. The moog in opening "Sepents Die" along that strange, Carpathian main riff is strangely alluring, but it also indicates a substantial deviation from their original premise. "Delomelanicon" is great. A catchy, concise banger of early Iron Maiden twin guitar melodies and gloomy melodies reminiscent of bands like Tokyo Blade or Accept. Robert Röttig's vocals have also taken a significant hit on this record. While he drives "Delomelanicon" with his usual high-pitched vocals, he doesn't achieve the same effect or credibility in the following tracks. "I Will Lose You" is a poor attempt at reproducing the gold age of hard rock with a pretty forgettable chorus, although it incorporates the previously mentioned influences nicely... at times. "To Dusk and I Love You" dangerously enters bluesy ballad territory, which for this band should be a minefield at this point in the movie, and effectively, they manage to blow themselves up all the way til the end of the track.
The album's length is not as generous as past offerings either. With only 2 tracks left in the bag of tricks, Lunar Shadow has a chance of tilting Wish to Leave
either way. "And Silence Screamed" doesn't provide much at this point, vocals sound indolent, absent, and the guitars, while delivering some nice flicks and solos, lack the punch and ambition of the band's older material. Closing the album is the 10-minute epic "The Darkness Between the Stars", a welcomed change of pace, with Zehner shifting gears on his drums with semi-blast beats, but his fellow members seem to be reluctant to follow until the clock ticks mid... minute 3, for old times' sake, with a brief but raging callback to the band’s first days. The second half of the track indulges itself in an overlong build up to questionable results, sending off Wish to Leave
ironically with the same feeling that its title conveys.
Not the best outcome for Lunar Shadow, three albums in, and considering how high they had raised the bar in the last years. Wish to Leave
might not be the holy grail of heavy metal revivals, but it does quench the thirst temporarily with an interesting blend of the glories of past ages and the vampiric kernel of bands like Tribulation, the adventurous soul of Hällas, and the spectral vibe of Ghost. Time will kindle these dim flames or extinguish their last embers, but that's a story for another day.