Lunar Shadow
Wish to Leave

I don’t know how much of a movie buff you are, but ya know how every year there’s one or two movies you don’t even have to see to know they’re gonna end up winning a bunch of awards? It doesn’t really matter how good it is, or if anyone ACTUALLY likes it. Those points are irrelevant.

That’s sorta what listening to Wish to Leave is like. The album just has that sorta intangible, “IT” quality about it. But unlike some of those eventual Oscar winners that everyone claim to like because they just sorta feel like they’re supposed to – there’s PLENTY to really like, and truly appreciate about Lunar Shadow’s 3rd LP.

To anyone paying attention, it should be no surprise that the band has churned out another impressive album – but that certainly doesn’t mean the band haven’t undergone their share of changes. Where 2017’s Far From Light stuck closer to a more classic heavy metal sound with a good amount of psychedelic vibes, and 2019’s The Smokeless Fires injected some subtle black metal elements to the mix, Wish To Leave sees the band stripping things way down to the rafters with a much cleaner, classic rock tone that finds itself closer to Blue Oyster Cult or Dire Straits than it does to Priest or Mercyful Fate. The end result is really unique – at times sounding like completely undistorted Black Metal (listen to the Vreid-like riff starting at 3:09 of “Serpents Die), at times getting downright bluesy (“To Dusk and I Love You), and still finding moments to unleash some more metallic fury (“The Darkness Between the Stars”), albeit still with that simple, mostly un-fucked-with clean guitar tone.

As with the rest of their catalog, this album is for the guitar lovers, with axeman, Max (Maxman?) leading the way, deftly balancing all of their new and previous influences together to pull off an intoxicating and innately listenable record. “And Silence Screamed” (my personal favorite) starts with a sweet galloping, Maiden-esque riff layered with a super catchy melodic lead that comes back throughout the track, before the band launches in a really cool lead and thrashy bridge (again given in “indie” flair with those super clean guitar tones), and capping things off with an epic, building, Hammond Organ-backed crescendo (all Traditional Heavy Metal bands should have organs don’t tell me otherwise). “Delomelanicon” does a nice job of seamlessly trading off epic, double-bass backed melodies, Classic Rock-inspired leads, and some (comparatively) furious heavy metal riffing to make a song that feels much longer than it’s 4:14 run time. It doesn’t drag by any means, it just packs a lot of different influences into a relatively brief time frame.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent production work here, perfectly matching the product I think the bands sets out to make here. The entire album has a sort of dream-like, almost reality-bending quality – like being trapped in limbo between the world of the living and dead… Ok what the hell would I know about being in limbo? But this all goes back to my original statement, that “Wish to Leave” just has some certain, intangible “It” factor. It’s the kind of thing that I’m sure will inspire a whole bunch of other ridiculous and nonsensical statements and descriptions like my own above. The truth is, I don’t think I can properly convey the listening experience to you, dear reader, until you just go ahead and listen for yourself. Which I highly recommend you do. Soon.

For now, the best I can tell you is that “Wish to Leave” is a unique, enjoyable listen, one that I do firmly believe is going to end up on a lot of folks’ year-end lists. Time will tell if it’s got the lasting power to end up on mine, but for now – I’m digging it a bunch.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
April 7th, 2021

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