Husband and wife folk metallers Moss Of Moonlight have many stories to tell. Hailing from Washington state, a chunk of their music revolves around an autonomous world called Cascadia, and these present day bards have released a new EP, Winterwheel (Cascadian Alliance), full of the same folk/pagan metal stereotypes that have come to plague the genre.
‘Gaet’ begins with a slow introduction, like trudging through the snow during a terrible storm. Drummer Jenn Grunigen offers up a different style of vocals; soft and melodic, and eerily haunting. The pair alternate between these styles, giving a dynamic that is both ominous and soothing. The storytelling is the best part of the EP; the tracks themselves aren’t interesting enough to want to hear the story. Tracks like ‘Eole’ and ‘Catte’ are slow moving dirges that have no real payoff; instead, Moss Of Moonlight opts to let their lyric writing ability shine, leaving the musicianship fumbling, generic, and stale. The metal influence wears thin and the group chugs along to the stoicism of convention. ‘Catte’ feels disjointed and directionless; the folk influence is there for the sake of novelty rather than crafting a sound that feels whole, a la Ensiferum or Eluveitie.
That’s not to say the album doesn’t contain its moments of epicness. The last track, ‘Hraefne’, weaves an intricate tale through European influenced folk and is captivating. The alternating vocal styles are present once again and work exceedingly well, the best on the whole EP. Winterwheeljust falls short in the music writing category; the tracks blend together and are there to solely elongate the story and concept. Moss Of Moonlighthas made an album that serves its purpose; their lyrical content is top-notch and the story they have crafted is interesting. Musically, however, the band lacks some of the depth needed to keep things fresh and engaging.