There’s a lot of teeth in metal/hardcore these days: Red Fang, Milk Teeth, Beartooth, Toothgrinder, and the subject of today’s review: Moon Tooth. With their second album Crux, these lunar-dentured boys come to us with a more focused sound, but without forsaking the fun and energy of their debut Chromaparagon.
Moon Tooth is perhaps most comparable to a band like Mutoid Man. Although Moon Tooth is not as sludgy and wacky, both bands are comprised of virtuosos on each instrument who write songs that are often frantic yet really catchy. Some Mutoid Mannerisms (sorry) can be heard on this album in the main riffs of “Awe at All Angles” and “Thumb Spike”. “Awe at All Angles” could’ve easily been a radio rock hit if that was still a thing. That’s not to call the song butt-rock, as it is done to a higher standard than most radio rock, but it is very catchy, exciting, and accessible to an audience beyond the scope of metal. In fact, a lot of this album falls into the bucket of “metal that non-metalheads would enjoy”, this song in particular just happens to have the most mainstream appeal.
The highlight of the album is the song “Omega Days”, which features major key riffage and a soaring chorus reminiscent of some of the band Torche’s finest work. At 3 minutes on the dot, this song always leaves me wanting more. It’s incredibly uplifting, and will surely be one of my top songs of 2019.
I’m happy to report that there are no bad songs on this album, but there are a few lackluster moments. “Through Ash” has the difficult task of following “Omega Days”, and it doesn’t rise to the challenge. The band takes a slower, more subdued approach with this track. While it does include some nice guitar flourishes, as well as a cool shuffled snare part in the mid-section, the song as a whole is a bit forgettable. The band is much more successful at this subdued approach with the song “Motionless in Sky”, which features sprawling, Brent Hinds-ian fretwork from guitarist Nick Lee.
The lyrics of “Musketeers” contain a few cheesy jabs against Trump (“small hands, small crowds”), and yeah fuck Trump, but the corny lyrics detract from an otherwise well-intentioned song. Luckily, the band makes up for this in the last 30 seconds or so with a blissful, anthemic outro.
As mentioned previously, this band is full of guys who know their way around their instruments. In addition to providing tasty licks, guitarist Nick Lee shows he is a master soloist in songs like “Awe at All Angles” and the stomper “Rhythm and Roar”. His solos are ideal – they are both flashy and memorable, but they never overstay their welcome, and never step in to noodly or pretentious territory. Singer John Carbone takes the center stage with his unbelievable vocal gymnastics. While most of the album showcases his soulful clean vocals, the second half of the title track sees him go in on some ripping harsh vocals as he joins the rest of the band in going full Gojira. The band is rounded out by the powerful yet precise drumming of Ray Marté and the meaty bass work of Vincent Romanelli. The band accomplishes something pretty remarkable on Crux – they let you know they can play their asses off, but without going off the deep end in to prog wankery. They write accessible music without ever being boring or derivative. This album shows that Moon Tooth is a force to be reckoned with – and I’m excited to see where they go next!
Best Tracks: Omega Days, Awe at All Angles, Motionless in Sky, Raise a Light
Weakest Tracks: Through Ash
FFO: Mastodon, Mutoid Man, Foo Fighters, Torche
Overall Score: B+