Album Review: LUNAR – Eidolon

Originality is tough in music, and especially so in progressive metal. So many genres have cross-pollinated over the years that trying to put a unique spin on music usually ends up with going so far off the reservation that coherency can be lost. It’s a shame that “progressive” has become a kind of cliche-ridden sound of its own, hence my temptation is to call Eidolon — the second album by Sacramento’s Lunar — a progressive death metal album. Not in the sense that it uses “prog” tropes, but because it genuinely sounds like a forward step in terms of what can be done with death metal.

I’m not often a fan of likening bands to other bands, because I think unless it’s an intentional throwback or copycat it does a disservice, but the first thing that comes to mind is Opeth by way of Fates Warning and I do not say this lightly. Eidolon has an intensity to it that is organically broken up with occasional clean or melodic sections that never sound out of place; the group — brainchild of drummer and songwriter Alex Bosson — never comes across as hokey or gimmicky.

Alex_Bosson
Alex Bosson, founder of Lunar

All right, let’s dig in a bit. The musicianship is as tight as any metal release you’re likely to hear this year or any other year. Every member is on top of their game.  And speaking of members, the core of the group is comprised of singer Chandler Mogel, bassist Ryan Price, and guitarist Balmore Lemus, along with already mentioned Bosson on drums. Eidolon also features guest contributions from members of Haken, Leprous, Thank You Scientist, Fallujah, and more.

The guitars layer beautifully, with chunky riffs both alternating and occasionally layering beneath more melodic lines. The rhythm section pounds along, with a bass guitar that fleshes out instead of simply sitting at the root notes, even getting plenty of room to shine on its own (which I appreciate) and a drummer that can handle blistering double bass and blast beats right alongside jazzier sections. All the while we have a vocalist who manages to be perfectly understandable when he growls, by death metal standards anyway, without ever losing that sense of intensity and roughness.

One of the best things about (progressive) metal is that feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Sometimes it’s less enjoyable if it feels like the band doesn’t have a grip on what they’re doing and keep taking left turns to the mood, but once again Lunar succeeds by having each song feel like a distinct entity while never losing the tone of the album as a whole. After the two three “proper” songs (after the instrumental intro “Orbit”), the appropriately named “Comfort” comes in with a melodic and prog-rock/jazz inspired beginning, blossoming into a behemoth of a track that puts acoustic guitar and jazz drumming front and center forming a foundation and building to an explosion of a soothing guitar solo courtesy of Haken axeman Richard Henshall.

At this point you might think you’ve heard all of Lunar‘s arsenal, and you would be all wrong and a bag of chips. The very next track, “Potion,” is way more into the prog rock territory, with underlying acoustic guitar melody and jazz bassline carrying it.

The closing 12-minute epic “Your Long Awaited Void” is like a revue of all the best bits of the rest of the album: heavy riffs, clean vocals mixed with growls, acoustic bits, guitar soloing, in addition to cello-laden atmospherics,…

The word “classic” gets tossed around a lot, but I honestly can’t think of a better word for Eidolon. From front to back and top to bottom, this album is both firmly rooted in death metal with a progressive bend while standing alone atop the mountain. It’s equally headbang heavy and enthralling, music to get in the mosh pit and simply sit in awe of. This is required listening, because there’s nothing else quite like it.

Eidolon is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Check Lunar on Facebook and Instagram.

Interview: LUNAR

Alex Bosson

One album that I’m really looking forward to, although I do have a copy of it, is a full-length by Sacramento, California-based progressive metal project Lunar, titled “Theogony.” The project, with a core trio of drummer Alex Bosson, guitarist Ryan Erwin, and bassist Ryan Price, with singer Chandler Mogel, has completed an epic journey with “Theogony,” which is out on November 10th via Divebomb Records.

Alex Bosson spoke for Progarchy about the album, inspiration, and more.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life is wonderful! Really I love everything about my life these days. And music is a huge part of my life, obviously, so that makes things great since music stuff is going so well!  I’m really proud and excited about this album release.

What was it like working on the “Theogony” album?

There’s so many answers to that question… [laughs] In one form or another I have been working on this album for almost 3 years!! At times it was frustrating trying to coordinate with people all around the world for all the parts they played. I think by the end there’s over 20 or maybe 25 people that worked on “Theogony” in one form or another. So trying to match up everyone’s schedules and everything can be exhausting.  It sometimes was a full time job in itself. But it was totally worth it! Ultimately, working on this album was filled with fun, unforgettable experiences. The time spent in the studio with the musicians that contributed locally were always the most fun parts. I love being in the studio! And the other guest musicians around the world, when I would get emails from them with guest solos or something, my heart would just leap into my throat with excitement to hear what they had done. So although at times it was very difficult to make everything come together, working on this album was a fun, unique experience and I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished!

Lunar - Theogony

Are there any touring plans in support to “Theogony”?

Unfortunately, no, there are no plans for touring. LUNAR has actually never had a live performance. I tried for a long time to turn the band into a full lineup so that we could tour and play live, but, so far, it hasn’t been able to happen. Ryan Erwin, Ryan Price and I all live in Northern California, but still hours apart. And Chandler Mogel (the vocalist on “Theogony”) lives in New York. And all the lead guitar duties were divided up between numerous guest musicians. So I hope someday I will have a lineup that I’m able to tour with, but for now, this is just a studio project. I did it that way because I didn’t want to delay getting the music out there any more than I already had.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

Personally, I haven’t had the opportunity to tour nearly as much as I would like. So I would love to tour anywhere really! But I feel that progressive rock and metal has a much better reception in Europe so I would love to do a European tour someday. In terms of specific countries, I’ve always wanted to visit Sweden, Norway, Germany and the U.K., so I’d love to hit those places on a tour!

Who and what inspires you the most?

Well as cliche as it may sound in a music interview, nothing inspires me more than music. Like most musicians I think, it just has this chemical affect on my brain when I hear incredible music that can’t be matched by anything else in this world. So whether it’s from the feeling it gives me, the incredible musicianship of the players, or some lyrics that speak to me, that’s what inspires me to create the music that I do. It’s an important part of everything I do music related. Even while I sit here doing this interview I’m listening to “Nil Recurring” by Porcupine Tree. In terms of the musicians / bands that inspire me the most, being a fan of progressive rock and metal, I love the bands that are the most diverse, but still catchy. Ones that are incredibly talented and when someone who’s never heard them asks you to describe them, you can’t, because there’s nothing else out there to compare them to. So these days my personal biggest influences musically are acts like Opeth, Steven Wilson, Haken and Ayreon. And I’m sure you’ll hear tons of influence from those acts in “Theogony.”

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

Honestly I don’t often seek out other genres of music to listen to, but I don’t believe in the restriction of genre, so I will listen to just about anything that someone puts on to show me and I’ll try to find something that I can draw some kind of influence or appreciation for in it. That being said, prog is such a broad category of music that you can listen to a few different bands that are all considered prog and find so much range of sound and influence. Spending a day listening to Steven Wilson, Ayreon, Radiohead and Ihsahn spans so many different sounds, but they can all be considered progressive bands. For my personal playing, I try to watch individual drum videos as often as I can to learn new things in my playing style and ability, and with that I find myself watching drummers from different genres. I feel that it’s important to not pigeonhole yourself in your playing, especially if you’re into progressive music. And while I love watching rock and metal drummers play, I often find I’ll learn more and open myself up to new ideas watching jazz drummers or gospel drummers.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

I guess I just want to say thank you to you guys at Progarchy for taking the time to interview me and thanks to all the fans that read this and check out “Theogony!” The album will be out November 10th. I’m really excited for it and I really hope everyone enjoys it!!!

 

“Theogony” is out on November 10th; pre-order it from Bandcamp here. Follow Lunar on Facebook.