Closure in Moscow - First Temple (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Closure in Moscow

First Temple (2009)

Equal Vision

Closure in Moscow really like the Mars Volta. A lot. So much so that their first full-length, First Temple, basically sounds like a slightly more economical version of any Mars Volta album. All the key ingredients are here: operatic, Queen-ified vocals, hyperactive, truncated prog guitars and plenty of miniature, somewhat spacey flourishes flashed throughout. As much of a blatant copycat First Temple sounds, is it any good at it?

Eh, somewhat.

There's certainly less of a Latin flavor here, and there are times the band sound a little more like their own. For much of "Sweet#hart," vocalist Christopher de Cinque is more subtle in his vocal delivery, sounding at least a little less like Cedric Bixler-Zavala's little brother. "Permafrost" is all quiet and restraint with Cinque essentially muttering throughout it; it's much more atmospheric and settling than anything else on the album. There's this break after about three minutes in "Arecibo Message" with Cinque sounding the most sincere he sounds on the whole album ("How could you defy these precious little ones?") and a sudden acoustic accompaniment to layer things. It's rare moments like these where the influence is less obvious and the band is, consequently, much more effective.

But you can't help but feel that the Volta's done this in a prolific manner the past half-dozen years when you hear abbreviated guitar squeals on "Vanguard," or the high-pitched, snarling vocal acrobatics of "Deluge." At times in closer "Had to Put It in the Soil," the flatter singing stands out, but it actually sounds like a retread of Saosin's more recent style. In any event, the album too often sounds all too familiar and, like the Volta's more masturbatory moments, there's a lack of real spice in the songwriting to help overlook the similarities.

For the Mars Volta fan who somehow hasn't been fulfilled by that band's epic amount of output since 2003 and is hungry for even more, First Temple might help the "void" a bit. Everyone else, pass.

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