|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Marcus Bersaglia & Dave Peters|
|Record Label: Soundmass||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website: Dead Moons Grey|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 45:27|
A legitimate case can be made that Resurrection Band is one of the first groups in the early Christian music scene to experiment with hard rock and the blues. Glen Kaiser brought the perfect complementary vocal style (gritty and emotionally charged) while his guitar playing – along with that of lead guitarist Stu Heiss – stayed true to blues specific guitar techniques. If in doubt then give Rez Band classics such as “Rain Dance”, “Where Roses Grow”, “Quite Enough” and “Lincoln’s Train” several spins.
Louisville, Kentucky based Bride also deserved mention. Yes, the group got its start in the eighties playing classic heavy metal but morphed into blues based hard rock at the start of the decade that followed. Albums such as Kinetic Faith (1991), Snakes In The Playground (1992) and Scarecrow Messiah (1994) are considered essential in inviting comparison to Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses.
Other bluesy hard rock groups worthy of note include Thieves & Liars, F.O.G., Stonefuze, Mission Of One and Jesus Joshua 24:15.
And this leads us to the latest act to uphold the blues based hard rock tradition, Dead Moons Grey. Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Dead Moons Grey debuted in 2007 with a seven song self-titled demo prior to returning a year later with the full length offering Smokey Mountain Way. The group proceeded to sign with the Australian label Soundmass for its latest work, the aptly entitled spring of 2010 sophomore release DMG.
Dead Moons Grey comprises two key members: Marcus Bersaglia (lead vocals & guitars) and David Peters (drums). On DMG the two blend elements of hard rock, metal, blues and groove while staying true to their Southern Appalachian roots through the use of regional instrumentation such as acoustic guitar, banjo, jaw hard and slide guitar. I guess you could describe Dead Moons Grey as “Appalachian metal”. It works for me.
One of the best facets to DMG is its variety, ranging from up-tempo pieces with catchy hooks - “Visions”, “Hazard” and “Muther Truth” fulfill this role – to well articulated mid-paced numbers “Pete” and “Knuckles in The Wind”. Yet, when Dead Moons Grey slow things to a near crawl, “Let Go” and “Cast” come to mind, doom metal territory is almost approached. Acoustic laced numbers “Savior” and “True Colors” reflect some of those previously referenced bluesy Appalachian influences.
If I were to invite a comparison Dead Moons Grey proves consistently heavier than prime Rez Band and Bride in taking the more muscular if not all out metal approach. Credit, of course, goes to Bersalgia, who bestows a heavy as all get out rhythm guitar sound; some of the riffs he lays down, such as on the albums slower tracks, are nothing less than monstrous. His lead guitar work, at the same time, is straight from the Troy Thompson (Bride) and Stu Heiss school of blues based soloing.
Vocally, he reminds me somewhat of Bride front man Dale Thompson but singing in a lower register. If anything, the guy brings some gruff low end grit and muscle to the table, which stands in perfect alignment to the musical happenings at hand.
Production values bring polish in the needed amount but not so much as to take away from the bands natural raw energy.
The album begins to its three most upbeat and catchiest pieces, “Visions”, “Hazard” and “Mother Truth”.
“Visions” opens with Bersaglia suggesting to “check it out”. And check it out we do, to a killer chorus hook and prodigious guitar riff that would do early nineties Bride proud. In the end, this one proves snarling, nasty and just plain driven with its hulking low end and mean spirited aura. “Vision” focuses on what to believe in:
I’ve seen emotions break on the floor
End that feeling and another chore
I gotta know just where we will be
It aint easy and pain aint free
Never seek answers given to chance
Such a waste, lies romanced
And from the sky came truth to see
Maybe lies? Who to believe?
Some rumbling riff action gets “Hazard” underway. The song maintains the plodding momentum as it rolls through its verses, not gaining initiative until approaching a spirited chorus holding up under the pointed manner in which it is delivered. Again, the hook is catchy and low end happening.
“Muther Truth” proves a rollicking five minutes. Ranking with the albums heaviest, the song brings a hard charging guitar sound bordering on all out metal and the relentless tempo to match. The occasional slower passage upheld by a distinct bass line adds an element of contrast. “Muther Truth” centers around exactly that:
Forever is a long time for clutching regret
So raise your head now and be proud of what it is
You’ll be surprised what you can take
The down greedy beast hogs soul n’ all
I don’t care what they say
This is my life I live this way
I live these words I speak
A Savior from their disbelief
Quite the left turn is made to the bluesy “Savior”. This one brings a relaxed feel in mixing a foundation of the acoustic with occasional outbursts of scratchy rhythm guitar and bluesy lead guitar. The effect works, with the end result an environs reflecting the groups Appalachian roots in on uncertain terms. A statement of faith is made here:
The long dark nights when shadows move
The only light with me there was you
And when I was rejected and still I wanted more
Who there with me was, none other than you Lord
This song’s for You
Oh my Savior
Oh my life
Oh my Savior
Bring me back
Bring me back home
“Epiphany”, a minute long introduction to the track that follows, “Pete”, reenacts the Apostle Peter denying Christ three times. The impact comes across dramatic as Bersaglia, playing the role of Peter, reinforces the oath “I don’t know the man!”
“Pete” showcases a resounding heaviness with its driving guitar barrages and churning low end. Yes, this one might be slow and sludgy (almost doom-like) but showcases an intense underpinning, reflected in a haunting chorus – repeating the phrase “And the crow called you! Oh, Pete boy” – that borders on the indelible. Do I dare say this might challenge for song of the year? The theme here is forgiveness:
You’ve seen the way
To cure and heal
Yet this rooster
Calls you out!
Guilty as you know, son!
Left with all to bear!
Three times I was left
Three times given away
Run Pete, shield you face from me!
Now I have forgiven you
“Knuckles In The Wind”, another barn burner, starts to a drum solo followed by a metal edged guitar riff. As the song plows forward, it descends into an ominous low-key abyss with a trudging chorus and propensity for the inauspicious. No, this might not be the albums catchiest but holds up as a result of its forceful aura and “biker metal anthem” lyrics:
Throttle down and head up
Aint not place like the road
Laid back and what’s up
Mount up, let’s ride on
“True Colors” highlights the albums lightest touch with its acoustic driven proclivity. Delicate and airy, the song gives rise to a notable melody while allowing the group to wear its Appalachian influences on its sleeves in the process.
Five minutes of raw muscle would be the best way to describe “Let Go”. The song comes across driven in capacity, taking a hard edged mentality and backing it with Dave Peters rapid fire drumming and a foreboding as it gets chorus. Similar to “Knuckles In The Wind”, I would hesitate to describe this one as “catchy” but the emphasis on the overpowering and baneful put it over the top.
A similar heading is taken on “Cast”, another truculent piece joining heaviness and plodding in equal amounts while allowing for a chorus that approaches the aphotic. The end result is another piece bordering on the doom-like with its stringent guitar riffs and fitting lyrical approach:
I’ve live where shadows have crawled
I see the world for what it is today
Hollow my eyes don’t scan, reach out my broken hand
Skyward bound, here I make my stand
I’ve walked through thirteen shades of hell today
I felt the anger and wrath whip at me
The test of time it stands, eternal age old plan
Walk it narrow to receive the Right Hand
If you are interested in a powerful and intense listening experience then look no further than DMG by Dead Moons Grey. Whether it is the albums more up-tempo and catchier pieces or those heading in a slower and heavier direction, everything holds up under repeated play. The vocals prove complementary and guitar work blues driven, with the regional Appalachian influences only adding to the albums versatility. Fans of blues and hard rock would do themselves a favor by checking this out.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Visions” (4:11), “Hazard” (3:47), “Muther Truth” (5:17), “Savior” (4:42), “Epiphany” (1:10), “Pete” (6:05), “Knuckles In The Wind” (5:10), “True Colors” (4:16), “Let Go” (5:42), “Cast” (5:04)
Marcus Bersaglia – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Banjo
Dave Peters – Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Bass & Keyboards
Wes LeQuire – Guitars & Bass
Jon Leonard - Bass