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There is no original bone found within the musical skeleton of Lune’s songwriting. Lune (not to be confused with the awesome American noise-rock band, Lume) sit in that contemporary, familiar framework to what many other Australian heavy acts like Alpha Wolf, Advocates (RIP), Gravemind, The Gloom In The Corner, and I, Valiance do. (As well as bigger international acts like your Architects‘.) Yet this new Melbourne band, who have only officially existed for around eight months now, nail this style of darkened, djenty, deathcore-adjacent metalcore, lifting themselves above the endless slew of other bottom-feeding artists attempting it. That’s the key difference for Lune and their new EP when compared with others. For even in the band’s infancy as a collective, their debut EP, ‘Ghost,’ sounds quite refined and polished. As if they’ve been at this for some time; as if they already have another EP or a full-length under their belts.
Of course, guitarists Krys Smith and David Freeland come from the aforementioned I, Valiance, and drummer Harrison Mills previously kept time in Blind Oracle. So there’s a decent pedigree established; there’s past good experience that the band pulls from. Which maybe explains why and how they’ve come storming out of the gate with more punch and skill than most local newcomers do: they already know the score. Yet their strength on display so early on is also a testament to working on your art until it’s fully ready, until you’re truly content with it, and not compromising for time or tastes. If that’s the mindset that Lune take with them moving forward with ‘Ghost‘ and beyond 2020, they may very well blow the fuck up in 2021 off the back of future material. But that’s the potential then, let’s look at the here and now.
‘Ghost‘ is a sonically forceful EP that doesn’t mince words. It tackles themes of family, broken homes and abuse (‘Manipulator‘); waging daily grinds, making-ends-meet and longing for slowly fading dreams (‘Modern Bones‘); mental health and grappling with that inner voice (‘Misery Dialogue‘); and understanding yourself, personal binaries, and not being afraid of deeper self-reflection (‘Mirror Image,’ the title song.) In so many words, it sure as shit has a lot to say, and it’s all offered with heart, heaviness, honesty and brevity. A major selling point of Lune’s debut release, in my mind. Something I do not wish to see them lose as time goes on.
Now, to the music. The titular ‘Ghost‘ that jump starts this EP sees vocalist Nathaniel Smith putting forth some solid vocal melodies that are ethereal and eerie. Set in stark contrast to him later belting out lower, bark-like vocalisations at the end of the track over a crushing, quaking breakdown and seriously eerie electronics that sound like they’re pulled straight from an old PlayStation horror game. Barking in Dealer, Spite and Knocked Loose? No thank you. But in Lune? Not half bad.
Digging deeper, this idea of contrast is what encompasses the core songwriting style of Lune and it’s fully evident on ‘Ghost‘ as an opener. After all, following a few repeat listens, it doesn’t take a SpaceX engineer to figure out why this cut was selected as the debut single release for Lune in 2019. It’s everything the band does put into a single song. For they can do brutal and heavy, yet they can also pull off some airy melodies and diaphanous musical qualities too. This ranges from the songwriting, performances and tones, to the vocal techniques that Nathaniel executes: clean singing, mid-range screams, to low burly growls. This sort of dynamic isn’t just exclusive to Lune as a band, obviously, but they do pull it off competently, and I can’t really fault them for that.
The easy winner for the coveted title of “Alex’s Favourite Song” on ‘Ghost‘ is ‘Manipulator‘ by a HUGE margin. Straight up, this track alone adds 10-15 arbitrary points to the rating. This absolute ass-beater features the circus-vibe electronics and the weird, dissonant backing guitar work that I, Valiance were known for using in their songs. (Alongside some excellent double-kick playing.) Given their sharing of band members with Lune, they can happily get away with it here. Individually, ‘Manipulator‘ feels like the most concise track of the five, with the uncomfortably real lyricism about abuse, blood not making a true family, and a strained relationship with one’s father being perfectly matched with the dark, brooding metalcore arrangement that surrounds this true story. Then, when placed within the wider context of the EP, centred smack dead in the centre portion, it stands even taller and prouder. (If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse, please know that support is available from these resources and services.)
Closer ‘Mirror Image‘ ties back around to the personal themes of identity, understanding and connection of the title track by re-using the line “remember my name“. A nice little full circle moment for the EP that neatly bridges the beginning and the end of ‘Ghost,’ feeling like there has actually been some kind of closure, some form of emotional and thematic resolution taking place. The songs’ aggressively palm-muted djenty riffs and use of dissonance, with sprinkles of lighter guitar melodies and sung vocals is done very well. What else can I say? Just like it’s sister eponymous track, ‘Mirror Image‘ is a solid summation of everything that Lune do as a hard-hitting, melodically unafraid heavy musical unit. (Which is also why we happily premiered said song not too long ago.)
‘Misery Dialogue‘ and ‘Modern Bones‘ are definitely much more of the same, too much more perhaps, and that’s a sentiment that best sums up this EP. The former kicks off with a classic, done-to-death lo-fi riff intro, soon becoming armed with hard grooves, distant scrapes of melody, some pitched vocal yells, and plenty of dissonant lines and slicing harmonics. All the while the vocals and lyrics act like a metaphorical dialogue between the good and bad sides that battle deep within someone. Then the latter feels like one big ol’ Architects homage, with its guitar melodies, pacing and structure, but does step up with some solid vocal layering in its choruses. Of the five, the pair of ‘Misery Dialogue‘ and ‘Modern Bones‘ are most certainly the weakest links. To me, they’re both fine on paper, and are harmlessly passable metalcore compositions by themselves. Yet when packaged alongside a far better and memorable trio, they noticeably don’t stick as hard nor for as long.
Though painfully unoriginal, Lune comfortably, heavily, tick all of the boxes for this kind of music with ‘Ghost,’ enjoyably pulling together various sub-genre ideas from the likes of deathcore, djent, metalcore and nu-metalcore. Here Lune are proving that “generic” does not always mean ‘bad’ or ‘mediocre.’ However, this is an extremely tried-and-true modern metalcore sound, and without the technical and experimental aspects of I, Valiance, (a band intrinsically tied to Lune with some of its members), I often felt myself wanting a few surprises, some more musical diversity, and one or two different ideas from the EP as a whole. Lune are not I,Valiance and that band isn’t Lune; they’re two different entities. Yet when the new band is pulling ideas from the old one, I can’t help but wish more interesting parts of the older band followed over. Obviously, this is something that they could definitely expand on in the future, and that’s a future that I’m very interested in looking forward too.
Of course, if you’re just looking for a decent, dark-sounding and introspective new heavy EP to take with you beyond your house now that quarantine restrictions are lifting (remember to still practice social distancing), you can do far worse than Lune’s debut EP. For ‘Ghost’ makes two clear statements. The first is that this band sure aren’t here to fuck spiders; the second is that there’s a lot more where this five-track came from; further potential loaded in the barrel with their finger on the trigger. So keep your eyes on Lune moving forward if you know what’s good for ya.
‘Ghost’ is out Friday, June 12th: