Review: Moonlyght – Return to Desolation

Posted: August 2, 2015 in Reviews
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Moonlyght - Return to Desolation

Canadian progressive metallers Moonlyght have returned from the grave so to speak with their new release, ‘Return to Desolation’. Revived in 2011 as a studio project, this is the first release since 2008’s ‘Shining’, and is out on Blast Head Records now.

Describing themselves as ‘progressive dark metal’ brings to mind the ethereal fury of Agalloch. Starting with the eight minute title track, ‘Return to Desolation’ may not reach the dizzying heights of Agalloch, but they certainly are no slouches. Moonlyght combine a melodic, hauntingly atmospheric style of black metal with a progressive mindset, giving the music opportunities to breathe. Aggression is tempered with some ghostly clean guitars and female vocals. It’s a rather unique mix that works well for the band.

There are plenty of moments of cold fury in here as well, like the blasting start of ‘Human Remembrance’, or the icy ‘Dwelling in Earth’s Shadow’. The progressive elements are a lot more Dream Theater than Rush, and the musicianship never falls below oustanding. ‘A Distant Illusion of Freedom’ has some great progressive moments mixed expertly with some metal thunder. For an album that has more than its fair share of almost ten minute songs, ‘Return to Desolation’ is so full of variety that you can never get bored. ‘The Sweet Poisoned Light’ encapsulates their entire sound, with complex compositions and male/female dueting vocals.

Wildly unorthodox black metal or visceral prog? You decide, but all you need to know from me is that the new Moonlyght album is great. A soaring mix of Dream Theater-esque prog metal and evocative Cascadian black metal, Moonlyght have crafted a record of savage beauty. It may be slightly long for some, but for me its one of the finest hour pluses of 2015.


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