Review: Moon Tooth – Phototroph
The prog riff kings are back.
I don’t really like any sub-genre of metal. I envy those who can confidently say “I like death metal” or even shudders “I like power metal” since music is SO much easier to find that way. I used to have that with the nerdiest prog metal and rock, but that didn’t last too long. I miss those days. Sure, I can click just about any link on Toilet Tuesday and find something to enjoy about it, but it’s increasingly more difficult to find the “genre, but actually interesting” bands. Instead, I have to wait around for bands like Moon Tooth to appear with brilliance hidden behind vague descriptors like progressive metal. That could mean anything.
Their genre would actually probably be closer to rock than metal if anyone in rock tried to do anything new over the past two decades, but since there’s no classification for them there, they found a nice purchase as a band that metal addicts can put on for a general audience. A lot of that line straddling is due to one of my favorite guitarists in music right now, Nick Lee. He plays with such recklessness that it sounds like he literally can’t hit a wrong note. To say nothing of his solos (and be sure to check out the one that would sound at home on a DragonForce album on “Phototroph“), his riffs are uniquely fun, packed with energy, and take constant unexpected turns.
John Carbone follows Nick’s lead with a completely emotionally unhinged vocal performance. There’s an obvious rawness in his lyrics that he taps into and so easily expresses with soulful skill. I’d pick a song that perfectly exemplifies this, but it’s just every time he opens his mouth. The band’s sound is rooted in playful energy but shies away from being mindless fun, and Carbone’s amazing but unusual delivery pushes that concept to its limits with just a little vulnerability behind it.
This is a band that put in the work, cares deeply about their product, and it shows. I remember back between their first two albums they were on the road for what seemed like two years straight, and it seems that time has paid off. The four of them have figured out what works, what doesn’t, and then put in the grind to make Moon Tooth an absolute beast. This album rules.