Return to Desolation

You have to hand it to Blast Head Records, they certainly haven’t locked into a singular style for their releases and bands. They got pretty well most genres covered from brutal death metal (Hate Division, Nebulous), epic black metal (Valdrin, Eternium), grindcore (Nervous Impulse) and even Swedish death metal (Morbid Vomit). They also like to promote home grown Canadian bands as well. Enter Moonlyght, a band who in the early to mid 00s seemed to be a really promising Canadian entry to the fading melodic death metal field, adding some epic synths and a progressive folky tinge to the tried and true sound, peaking with 2008s excellent Shining.

After breaking up in 2007 and releasing Shining as a swan song, the band took some time off, but has reformed with many returning members from the bands seemingly endless, rotating line up. The result is a sound that’s intact from Shining, and that makes the album sound a bit dated, but in this instance that is good as its a throwback to the late 90s early 00s melodic black/death metal scene where its was all about the keyboards and being a little more avant garde.

I hear a lot of bands from that era in Return to Desolation, like Embracing, Sacrilege, Eternal Tears of SorrowLothlorien, Auberon, (a lot of the Black Mark stuff actually) and such where the synths and atmospherics were at the fore front and female vocals, clean vocals were thrown into the dancing, dueling Dark Tranquillity melodies and hint of black metal. Unfortunately, Moonlyght are not quite on mark with the song writing and riffs side of things even if everything else is on point, which is again much like the genre was back then as it became a bit saturated and bloated.

Still, Return to Desolation, is a fun little listen and a nice nostalgic listen. Even after the rather bland opening title track tries to put you off with some heavily accented, slightly off key clean vocals, (male and female) which litter the rest of the album unfortunately. But the songs pick up around track three  with “Dwelling in Earths Shadow” and following tracks,  “A Distant Illusion of Freedom” and “Universal Pain”. The guitars are busy, airy and light,with lots of melodic, galloping leads and riffs,  the drums are tight, but there is hardly any bottom end, which befits the style and the synth heavy structures.

Many of the songs are a bit long (6-8 minutes), making for  70 minute album, especially with a pretty frantic pace for most of the tracks, notably the Cradle of Filth like shrieks  and pacing of “Revelations from the Other Side”.  But there’s a lot to like and when the band reign things in an vary  a bit like “The Sweet Poisoned Light” or the rangy “(To a ) Ghastly Future”, even at almost eleven minutes, even more so if you enjoyed releases by the above mentioned bands back in the day, as I did.  But, also, times have changed and Return to Desolation isn’t as good  a Shining was back then when the genre was more important and vital.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 27th, 2015


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