The Sun The Moon The Stars - Mind Reader [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Sun The Moon The Stars

Mind Reader [12-inch] (2011)

Black Numbers

The Sun The Moon The Stars excel on an aspect of heavy metal that so many others have forgotten. Somewhere in the mid '90s, heavy metal got into a loudness and brutality cold war, with each band trying to be louder and more "brutal" than the next. While the effect made music even more pummeling than before, the rock element of heavy metal, as utilized by Sabbath, Priest and Maiden, was lost. What The Sun The Moon The Stars do best is remain heavy and vast, but without losing the swinging element of blues which gave metal its birth.

Mind Reader is propelled by first wave and NWOBHM swinging riffs. The music is heavy enough to suggest a certain gravitas and sinister-ism, but muscular and energetic enough to keep the music out of modern metal muck. The band is heavy enough to stand on stage with Meshuggah, but they rock hard enough to support Mötörhead. It's not the most "brutal," but frankly, it's a lot more enjoyable than 60 minutes of toneless pounding. Plus, when the band breaks down into Geezer Butler-style bass, it's almost as heavy as the originators themselves.

Similarly, the vocals, while aggressive, have a range of colors and inflections, that makes the music move forward and roll with the riffs, instead of JUSTBEINGVOLUME10SCREAMINGALLTHETIME.

Likewise, the lyrics seem to approach topics rarely tackled in modern metal. Instead of demanding either a cheesy '80s satanism, or a 2010-ish frustratingly vague stance, the band makes multiple pagan references. "Protostar" attaches a sentience to a ball of hydrogen, and then uses it as a metaphor for modern relationships. "Firefly, You Shine" is a nearly 10-minute epic that pulls from psychedelic imagery as suggests a connection between all living things.

While the band succeeds in utilizing the tools of the founders and updates them, sometimes contemporary techniques seem to cause the band to stumble. While the drums throttle forward like a shambling mass of blues, sometimes they switch to a modern catch and release attack, which instead of driving the band forward, seems to put on reigns. Also, while the guitar riffs are powerful and distinctive, the band has a habit of dropping in Iron Maiden-style flourishes at the end of a run of notes, which removes some of the band's blunt force.

As metal becomes more "extreme" it seems to be more homogenous, or if not, than at least more monosyllabic. The Sun The Moon The Stars effectively show the range of valleys available to the modern metal band and make good use of those routes. With just some minor tweaking, they will lead a NWO(American)HM.