Two thousand seventeen has seen some great prog metal debuts, probably most notably from The Vicious Head Society. These debuts have been outside the box for the most part, while also retaining the classic elements and feelings of balls to the walls progressive metal. The debut album from Moonscape, called “Entity”, is without a doubt also in this league, and I’m very happy to discuss some of the details.
First off, Moonscape is primarily the work of Håvard Lunde. He composed, wrote, produced, and recorded the entire album. There is also a giant list of guest performers here, playing everything from keys to guitars to saxophone. The performances here are impressive, with blistering guitars, soaring keys, and a very mature feeling overall.
While not being something I could call innovative or groundbreaking, Moonscape’s sound is one I know well and enjoy quite a bit. The style of music here is true blooded progressive metal, complete with huge riffs, glorious vocals (both clean and harsh), and sprawling album structure. “Entity” is a pretty dark album, too; telling its story with something of a haunting and grey feeling, also entering the death metal genre at points.
The album also features three different guest vocalists. First is Jim Brunaud as “Father”. His sound is pretty epic and super manly, typical of progressive metal in general. Matthew Brown is “Man”, and his sound is my favorite. His vocals are smooth as butter, and, even though I probably shouldn’t say this, some of his vocals remind me of Chester Bennington’s clean style. Kent Are Sommerseth is “Demon”, and his harsh vocals are deep and powerful with lots of grit.
One thing Moonscape does well is climaxes. The songs will often build in tension and feeling, but then unleash a new segment of heavy riffing or soloing that feels really satisfying. “Entity” also offers quite a variety. While the sound is typical progressive metal, we are not worn down with constant riffage or keyboards or whatever. The huge riffing moments don’t come as often as you’d think, so they have lots of impact. We get only one synth solo on the album, but it is fantastic and I look forward to hearing it. There is also a surprise sax solo that sounds amazing. The album has lots of spacey moments that break everything up a little more; and the album is only 40 minutes long, so you do get this itch to restart it right away once you finish it.
“Entity” is technically all one continuous suite split into nine tracks that flow right into each other. In all honesty, the album starts out a little roughly with “Disconsolation” and “A Farewell to Reality”. The first couple songs are good and do grab your interest, but it is “Into the Ethereal” and onward that really satisfies my prog metal hunger. “Into the Ethereal” is indeed a spacious experience with wonderful piano that is very sincere. The album really finds its own thing at this point.
Other favorite tracks include: “Under Absent Clouds”, a haunting song with a sweet synth solo in the middle, and “A Crack in the Clouds”, an off kilter track that features an awesome sax solo. Probably my favorite track is the genuinely amazing title track that is mostly piano and gentle guitar, but then climaxes in one of those aforementioned explosions of heavy riffs. It ends the album perfectly.
Håvard’s Moonscape is a total success and promises great things to come. The album is cohesive, focused, and has lots of different sounds and textures to keep listeners interested and invested. On top of that, the story is very interesting and well written, though I confess I’m not entirely sure what’s going on right now. If you are looking for another amazing prog metal album this year, look no further.