Released: 2007, Source Of Deluge
Lunar Eclipse is one of those bands you never really hear much about who toil away endlessly in the underground, consistently producing quality material that somehow never manages to reach the level of greatness. It's been eleven years since the founding of this group of German melodic-deathsters, and on MORBID VISIONS, their second full-length, the brass ring is in sight and they make a try for it, but can't quite seem to grab a solid hold. That said, it's a damn good try and a very enjoyable listen that shows off a strong level of maturity and hints of even better material to come.
Promotional information compares the band's style to Bolt Thrower and Six Feet Under, which is only half correct. While references to WARMASTER / IVTH CRUSADE-era Bolt Thrower can indeed be heard throughout the album, there aren't many hints of Six Feet Under, though they also draw from other equally influential sources. And no, before you ask, although they titled the album MORBID VISIONS, they don't sound anything like old Sepultura either. Plenty of crunchy midtempo death riffs with tons of surprisingly evocative melodic lead guitar is the name of the game here, and high points are many and varied. "Through The Fire" calls to mind songs from any number of latter-era albums from Amon Amarth with its fast-picked dual guitar harmonies and bludgeoning death riffs, and the driving riffs and thematic guitar accents of "The Reaper" summons up a few shades of KARELIAN ISTHMUS-era Amorphis. Highlight cut "Dead End" calls to mind the best moments of early Desultory, combining melancholic and atmospheric clean passages with melodic-tinged heavier portions. "Belief" features some Bolt Thrower-inspired stomping rhythms and a great groove-laden breakdown section, and short instrumental "Infinity" features some excellently emotional lead guitar work. Unfortunately, the album is a long way from perfect. The band is hampered a bit by Rolf Quast-Janßen's generic ultra-low death vocal style, which sounds a bit forced most of the time, though he does cut loose with a few good scream-growls here and there. That description, oddly enough, applies to some of the music as well - when Lunar Eclipse goes into their more melodic segments, they really shine, but when they resort to the more standard death riffs, they often come across as sounding rather clone-ish, taking away from their sense of identity as a group. It's still all well done, mind you, just not in a fashion that's likely to make them stand out at all in the pack. There's also one very distinctive problem with the production, namely the cymbals - especially the ride. Quite frequently they sound overprocessed and digitally compressed, resulting in an annoyingly watery tone. It's forgivable, but will still no doubt be a notable point of irritation for some listeners. One quick additional note that has nothing to do with the music or the band itself - most of the bizarre eyeless-zombie-filled cover is pretty nicely designed, but whoever decided to put the album title in dark red letters on a dark brown background should go back to art school because it's practically unreadable without squinting.
It's not a classic, and it's not incredibly innovative, but MORBID VISIONS is a solid melodic death metal album that any fan of the heavier side of the style should be able to get into. Fans of Bolt Thrower, Amon Amarth, and the like should give this one a spin - you may not put it in your top ten favorites, but you'll definitely enjoy it.