Album Review: MOON TOOTH Crux
It was the absolutely mesmerizing, unpredictable musical tendencies weaved through the sporadic and gripping vocal melodies on their "Queen Wolf" single back in late 2015 that initially captured prog/experimental rock and metal audiences. After the full release of their debut LP Chromaparagon, it became clear that Moon Tooth was no one-trick pony considering their genre fusion galore amongst the act's solid proggy hard rock foundation.
As we now arrive at the band's follow-up, we see them pushing their experimentation further and reinforcing the songwriting stronger to a point of even catchier and wackier compositions. Although you may not be initially grabbed by Crux during your first couple listens, this album has certainly the grower characteristic in that it will gradually hook and drag you back for more excessive listening.
While each song holds its own unique attractive and distinct characteristics, there are a few specific songs that are particularly attention-grabbing, even on your first dive. The rapid guitar riff pace paired with the infectious chorus within "Omega Days" left an impressive lasting impression. Each time vocalist John Carbone belts out "Behold your true king, know us by our scars… Know us by the false god's tattered flesh that’s in our jaws," the song exudes a stunning amount of energy. Secondly, the vocal melody and chord progression in "Musketeers" drew definite comparisons to Incubus, yet was nonetheless rocking and addictive. Lastly, the title track is easily the most powerful piece on the album, showcasing the contrast of Moon Tooth's soulful and subdued side with their explosive heaviness.
With the aforementioned tracks being my go-to songs, the other tracks will eventually grow on you, revealing their subtle experimental and distinctive qualities with time. Alike the previously mentioned songs, "Awe at All Angles", "Thorns," and "Rhythm & Roar" excel in remarkably striking choruses and vivid lyrical passages that inevitably get stuck in your head. "Through Ash" and "Trust" smoothly incorporated blues in a rather modern manner where "Motionless in Sky" felt more akin to classic rock and grunge acts like Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, or Alice in Chains at bits.
One of the main appealing traits in Moon Tooth's previous LP was the notion that the song structures and dynamics felt very much like a loose cannon. Everything from the vocal leaps to turbulent guitar riffs and rhythms lacked predictability. And while that identity of the band was charming and unique on Chromaparagon, it’s refreshing to see that Moon Tooth has shifted a bit away from that style and instead chose a larger focus on hooks and greater dynamics. And that’s not to say the sound expressed on the last album is completely absent here; the soulful vocals and moments of metallic bursts are present, however, the compositions on this record are more focused and memorable. Nearly every song has a radio hit level of chorus catchiness. Overall, Crux is an enthralling, powerful milestone for Moon Tooth and a clear improvement from their previous material, even if not as instantaneously pleasing.