Moths, the five-piece stoner/prog outfit from San Juan, Puerto Rico, take a voyage into space on their debut LP. As cosmic and inter-galactic as the results are, this mission perhaps required more focus, more direction and a tad more discipline. The myriad metal genres, frequently-changing time signatures and disparate musical sections idiosyncratically grafted together into songs can make it hard to grasp or nail down any plan behind it all.
There is, of course, a committed and loyal audience out there for this kind of “spaced-out” thing, but Space Force (Self-Released) is unlikely to recruit many new followers to the cause.
Houston, we have a conundrum.
Slight, surprisingly retro opener ‘Space Cowboy Ballad’ features nice and relaxed jazzy guitar, while ‘Awake’ includes a diverting and propulsive Latin Jazz idyll towards its finale, despite being a more typical stoner trudge for much of its running time. There is no doubt Moths offer an exciting and eclectic musical mix, with some death metal growls amid the clean vocals – ‘Broken Slumber’, for instance, mixes death metal with more 1970s-style trad, but then falls away into an oddly detached and disjointed final section.
The whole project seems to come to life with ‘Unbound’, an intense rocker in which the various influences, layers and sections meld together coherently and effectively in time for a dramatic and dynamic finale. ‘Unbound’ is also the track that probably best showcases singer Damaris Rodriguez’s vocal versatility and variety, with some thundering bass from the redoubtable Weslie Negron (formerly of Zafakon). But there are still instances when Moths’ music lurches towards an almost perverse obscurity, not helped by the often too-muddy, too-sludgy sound mix.
There are six tracks but two are under two minutes, including the more-or-less straight-ahead ‘There’s No Place Like Space’ that smacks like a breath of fresh air. So all-in-all this album is only four minutes or so longer than the running time of their previous, self-titled EP, with its cover of King Crimson classic ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ (the new record features some guitar work that recalls signature Robert Fripp crosspicking, particularly on the title track).
The title Space Force is, of course, shared by the Steve Carrell/John Malkovich-starring Netflix comedy series, (a parody of the real US Agency) which has already tracked down satellites called Rush 2112, Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Purple, among other rock and metal references.
Yes, metal love is all around, even up in space.
7 / 10