Next review: » Luna Mortis - The Absence
Released: 2009, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Century Media Records seems to be cornering the market on female fronted metal bands – Arch Enemy, In This Moment, Lacuna Coil, The Agonist, Eyes of Eden and most recently Wisconsin’s Luna Mortis with their debut release THE ABSENCE. The Century Media PR machine has been working overtime with Luna Mortis to get the band’s name out, including vocalist Mary Zimmer’s participation in the “Girls of Century Media 2009 Calendar.” Thankfully the band is more than just a pretty face, with some memorable songs and strong performances by the band.
Stylistically, Luna Mortis covers a lot of ground. From the thrash infused romp of “Ash”, to the swooning “The Departure”, there’s a lot to like. Musically, the band doesn’t stray too far from its influences. Lots of fast picking, galloping guitars, and melodic lines over top of the fray. I hate relying on comparisons to other bands, but consider this a bridge between the aggressiveness of Arch Enemy and the gothic atmosphere of Lacuna Coil at the other end of the chasm. Luna Mortis finds a comfortable home resting in the divide. The band is competent, sounding tight and precise in their delivery as evidenced on the title track. Lead guitarist Brian Koenig gets his opportunities to shine, providing some tasteful guitar runs in the right places. The balance of the band keeps the momentum going appropriately, but the real star of the show here is Mary Zimmer. She’s a flexible vocalist, shifting from death style growls to melodic rock style singing and sometimes layering the two for full effect. “Never Give In” is a great example of this, as its quick, driving pace offers plenty of opportunity for Zimmer to switch things up. “Last Defiance” is the defining track on the disc, with its rapid fire rhythm guitar work and impressive solos – I imagine that this will go over huge in the live setting. “Embrace the End” offers some moments of psychedelia before settling into the formula of shredding guitars and harmonious vocals.
So the question has to be asked, would these songs stand out if the vocalist was a male with the same dexterity? For the most part, I’d answer “yes”, but Zimmer’s tonality, inflection, and convincing delivery really do carry the weight of the band on THE ABSENCE. The rhythm section of Jake Bare and Erik Madsen are pushed way back in the mix, forced to take a back seat to the vocals and guitars. Inversely, Zimmer’s vocals are always right at the front of things, even when they could stand to play more of a supporting role to the performance. The overall production values are a little dry, but bearing in mind that this is the band’s debut I’ll cut it some slack.
Luna Mortis appears to be a talented band and THE ABSENCE is a good starting point for a promising career. If the band is willing to take some chances and break away from the stereotypes that follow most of the bands mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, who knows what they could do or where thy could go. I’m sure that 2009 will find the band fully committed to touring and I’m curious to see what kind of effect those experiences will have on album number 2.
7.Never Give In
10.Embrace the End
Mary Zimmer - Vocals
Brian Koenig - Lead guitar, vocals
Cory Scheider - Rhythm guitar
Jake Bare - Bass
Erik Madsen - Drums
Previous review: » Lullacry - Where Angels Fear
Next review: » Lunar Eclipse - Morbid Visions
Released: 2009, Century Media
Reviewer: Mr. Rock
I have to admit that before receiving my copy of THE ABSENCE, I hadn’t heard of the Wisconsin band Luna Mortis. Now, however, after several listens, I wholeheartedly proclaim that I am a huge, huge fan. THE ABSENCE is a brilliant disc, and the band are outstanding!
With this disc, their full length debut, Luna Mortis successfully combine clean vocals with pissed-off hell-beast vocals in absolutely mesmerizing fashion. Vocalist Mary Zimmer is outstanding. Her performance, which you could say is a combination of the clean vocals of Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) mixed in with the nasty growl of Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy), without ever sounding like either. The performance shows her to be one of the best, most fierce vocalists in metal. Her clean vocals are warm and inviting, while the death vocals will send chills down your spine. She reminds me of a female Christian Älvestam (ex Scar Symmetry) in the way that she effortlessly combines both ends of the spectrum. It’s hard to believe both vocals are coming out of the same person.
As impressive as Mary is, the band itself is top notch. With some wonderful, soaring guitar heroics, to the monster riffs from hell, to solid as they come rhythm section, Luna Mortis is by no means a one person show.
The songwriting on THE ABSENCE is wonderfully brutal, yet oh so melodic. Compromising neither power nor technical prowess, the band have written some absolute gems that are paced brilliantly. For example, after the mid-tempo “This Departure”, the band knocks you down the crushing title track. You almost don’t see this coming as you are lulled into something of a trance during the melodic “This Departure”. To me, this shows that the band is paying attention to the little things. Make your listener feel one thing, then BAM, knock ‘em on their ass.
Seriously though, I really can’t believe that this is the band's first full length disc as they sound like a very seasoned band. I guess opening for the likes of Megadeth, Nevermore, and Dream Theater has been a really good schooling for the great rockers.
THE ABSENCE is an amazing album that has it all; wonderful performances, fabulous songwriting, and great production. Do yourself a favour and check it out… you won’t be disappointed.
4. “This Departure”
6. “Forever More”
7. “Never Give In”
9. “Last Defiance”
10. “Embrace the End”
Mary Zimmer – vocals
Brian Koenig – guitar
Cory Schneider – guitar
Jacob Bare – bass
Erik Madsen - drums
Previous review: » Lullacry - Where Angels Fear