Album Title: Earthling/Terrestre
Date of Release: 31 January 2020
Do you ever listen to an album and think ‘I really like this’, despite perhaps thinking that you shouldn’t? A guilty pleasure perhaps? Well, welcome to a newly discovered guilty pleasure of mine, by the name of Lunarsea.
To refer to Lunarsea as a guilty pleasure is arguably just a touch disingenuous because this term might suggest that there is something bad or negative about the band that means that I should not like them. But Lunarsea are not bad, far from it. It actually has more to do with the fact that Lunarsea arguably offer nothing new and overly original and as such, could get overlooked within a subgenre that is already pretty saturated.
This Italian quartet are best described as a melodic death metal band with a blend of harsh and clean vocals. I’m reminded of bands like Disarmonia Mundi or Soilwork who do the clean/harsh thing. To an extent, Scar Symmetry comparisons aren’t too wide of the mark either, maybe even a smidgen of Into Eternity. But, with Lunarsea, there’s a more polished, modern edge and they’re not generally as aggressive. There’s also a hint of the likes of Amaranthe to be heard, in that the melodies tend to be more pop-oriented and very accessible for the most part. It is as if the death metal element plays second fiddle to the melodic sections.
So, in essence, we have a highly accessible, softened and smooth melodeath album. And you know what? I really like it. I REALLY like it! It plants a big grin on my face which doesn’t leave from the opening notes, to the final sounds, some fifty minutes later. And, when we should listen to music for enjoyment, not because it’s cool or edgy, the end result on the listener is all that matters.
‘Earthling/Terrestre’ is the fourth full length within the discography of a band that has, somewhat unbelievably, been around for the better part of two decades. And, for all my talk of this being a ‘soft’ melodeath record, the preposterously-titled ‘Light-hearted In an Ergonomic Resin’ threatens to immediately undermine my words.
It begins with a lengthy intro, beginning with a gentle piano and clean guitar, eventually unfurling into a rousing, melodic affair that features strong riffs a flurry of frenetic and flamboyant drumming from Andrea Miazzetto, as well as choral synth effects to add a touch of the epic. But then, in launches a savage blastbeat alongside urgent, fast-paced riffing courtesy of Fabiano Romagnoli. This isn’t soft! However, something catchy is never far away and so bassist Cristian Antolini injects some clean vocals to counterpoint the gruff bark of lead vocalist Alessandro Iacobellis. The melodies come to the fore once again, with the whole track layered with vibrant synth effects, including more choral vocal effects, delivered at the hands of Romagnoli. I’d swear you’ve got to be deaf or a hardened cynic not to like this.
The scene is pretty much set and the nine subsequent songs that make up ‘Earthling/Terrestre’ follow a largely similar pattern. And, given how much I enjoyed the first song, this can’t be a bad thing.
‘The Earthling’ is just as catchy and memorable thanks to some cool guitar leads and a combination of melodic layered vocals, including an effect-laden delivery that only serves to increase the ‘modern’ vibe to the Lunarsea sound. Talk about addictive, it’s another winner.
Kudos has to go to drummer Andrea Miazzetto because his is the standout performance for me on this record. He peppers every song with some delightfully energetic and precise rhythms and beats, be they blastbeats, a lightning fast roll or something a little more subtle and imaginative.
I began listening to this record fearing that the clean vocals might be lacking a little punch and resonance. However, whilst he may not be quite in the same league as Björn ‘Speed’ Strid or Christian Älvestam, he is no slouch and he has really grown on me. Equally, the bark of Alessandro Iacobellis could be deeper and more forceful, but there’s nothing wrong with his performance either; both give it everything and fit the music well.
Lunarsea are not afraid to add in a touch of drama either, with the intro to ‘Helical Stalemate’ being a full-on symphonic, cinematic affair. And, just when you begin to think it isn’t going to deviate from its harsher approach, the final stages open up into another epic conclusion that reignites my goofy grin.
I kid you not, there isn’t a weak song on this record, not even the three-minute instrumental, ‘Pi’ that ends the record in a beautifully symphonic and theatrical manner. There is an argument to suggest that a little fat could be trimmed here and there to make the whole experience more succinct overall, but when song after song provides me with a reason to smile and press repeat, it speaks volumes for the quality of the album.
Nevertheless, I guarantee that Lunarsea will divide opinion, with many bemoaning a lack of extremity, whilst others will think it lacks a certain originality or edginess. However, for me, it is a damn good album of well-crafted and enjoyable heavy metal with some elements of extremity and a huge dose of catchy, addictive melodies. Sometimes, I really need to listen to something like this because it is just what I need. So, thank you Lunarsea for thoroughly entertaining me.
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: