Moanaa – EP …   Leave a comment

You know, I often think that sometimes, bands are secretly aware that, signed/recognized or not, they have something pretty epic in their hands. That’s why they take the “let’s not name our début EP approach”, as if to say, this is so badass, it doesn’t need a separate name. At times, it’s just that they want their name to attract more attention than any given title – and at times like this one right here, it’s because the music contained within can scream louder than any title. I know this is too long of an intro to the review of a three-track EP, bear with me.

Moanaa is from Poland, and their EP came out in 2010, and it flew, by and large, under the radar. Which I consider a shame, because like I said above, this band has real potential. Far as stoner doom goes, they are of the more moody variety: some might even use Metal Hammer terms “eco-minded” in their approach. If Agalloch, Dark Castle and stoner doom as a genre met in a bar and had a lovechild, Moanaa would be the result. If that’s too hypothetical, let me put it this way: balancing out death metal-influenced frenetic riffing and soaring, throaty/growling vocals tearing through the soundscapes are moody, almost ambient licks of guitar, punctuating and dynamic drumming (seriously, this guy has a place amongst my favourites.) All this is coupled with nice, deep-and-below bass-lines that make for atmospheric/ambient passages. These are often punctuated with harder, more metal partitions, and all that wrap up in a nice, hard-hitting, yet mood-infused package.

The three-track EP, which covers only about thirteen minutes of time in its entirety, opens with “From Deepest Place” which clocks in just over ten minutes. It’s a beautiful piece that does a bait-and-switch: starts out ambient and subtle, but suddenly launches into a hard-and-fast bit. The riff here is incredibly catchy, I dare you to forget it – it leaves an excellent impression. Then comes the best part, what starts as subtle licks of guitars slowly builds a dark, deep, murky mood and then raises the pulse until it hits hard and deep once more. One word? Atmospheric.

Then comes “Disappear,” which is basically the only piece of lyric I could hear in the song. At only six minutes of time, this song is easily the best of the bunch. It combines the ambient passages with the same “raising the pulse slowly” technique used earlier: the drums build tension and every few 8-bars, new things get thrown in, and the momentum just explodes when it hits a metal hill and thundering riffs, pounding drums and growling, guttural vocals croak on. The song seems to slow after a point, delving into mysterious moods with an atmospheric passage, but manages to melt that into one of an explosive, moody, brutal finish. It’s mind-blowing.

Closing the too-short EP-with-no-name is “Alight,” which is a modest twelve minutes plus. It kicks off like it’s going to be harder than the other two songs on the EP, but actually slows and slowly walks in the snow of the incredible mood set by the band with soft, crooning vocals and subtle licks of guitar and comfortable bass, keeping this bittersweet mood even when the guitars hit the distortion hill. It’s a touch sweeter than “Disappear”, but still dark and moody as hell. There is this passage during the initial parts of the song where the vocals go against pounding, grooving bass and sweeping guitars, it’s pure heaven. The song keeps to a base set at the very beginning and though it strays, it maintains cohesion by returning to it and circling around it.

So, to sum up? Well, this EP, short as it is, is perfect. It shows that Moanaa, if they persist and gain some backing while keeping a grip on their music, can easily be a contender for being the best of the eco-minded metal acts out there. The songs are detailed enough to be caught at a few listens, but not so obvious that there aren’t secrets lurking there. Every listen, something else catches your ear and THAT is where Moanaa are strongest: they have a high replay-ability value. AND, the album is up for free download on their bandcamp, so, go and get it. 10/10, easy.

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Moanaa @ Bandcamp
Moanaa @ Facebook

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Posted June 15, 2011 by doommantia in Moanaa

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