Sunday, 12 January 2014

Moon Coven - Amanita Kingdom (album review)

Cover artwork by Justin Boyesen.
I first became aware of Swedish five-piece stoners Moon Coven through their one-off single "Ruler of Dust" on bandcamp when they went by the unlikely moniker of Waning Moon.  After sigining to Transubstans Records of Sweden and altering their name to Moon Coven they are about to unleash their five song debut.

The color scheme of the album's cover art is a picture perfect chromatic representation of the band's sound, aquamarine hues doused in smoke, cloudy yet unobscured images conjured not through the artifice of witchcraft, but rather through pastoral feelings and communion with nature (is stoner rock not a movement based around communion with nature through the inhalation of smoke?).  The Baphometan pose of the witch like figure on the cover could just as easily be a tree, the stars her roots and the crescent moon forming a halo around her head the crown.  And why wouldn't it be?  This is the Moon Coven we're talking about, no longer waning but soaring, a crescent moon may show the heavenly body in its weakest phase, but it only last so long before the moon returns to full bloom, to dominate the night sky once again.

Dominating the album from the outset, the opening track "Ruler of Dust" (currently blazing through the doom charts top 25 songs list), remains the band's high point.  A nice sloppy feel to the opening riff as sunshine pours in through the stoner haze, evoking the spirit of Greenleaf / Dozer.  Lazily bouncing rhythms and vocalist David Leban's casual delivery set a relaxed mood which carries into much of the album.  There is a consistent feel to the album, the tone is warm, the delivery inviting.  What sets Moon Coven apart, of course, are the riffs which come at the hands of a three guitar onslaught courtesy of Mr's Leban, Axel Granhammar and Justin Boyesen.

"Amanita Kingdom II", another standout sounds like an outtake from Mountain Witch's 'Cold River' LP which isn't a bad thing.  This has a lot to do with the vocal distortion which gives it that distant feel, Mountain Witch's Rene Sitte favors.  The major difference is that the aforementioned German trio's music is "red" and "black" in tone while Moon Coven's is a very "green" and "grey" sound.  The broken rhythms which are set in motion, then knocked down with a descending, pausey riffs are handled with the stop-motion expert hand of a Ray Harryhausen.  The song, placed right in the middle of the album, is a cool change of pace and guarantees to re-capture the attention of anybody lulled into a hypnotic state by the laidback nature of the first couple tracks.

The band does not fail to capitalize on their opportunity as the album then slides into the song "East", which is currently streaming over on The Obelisk website.  Again, it's one of the highlights on a short album full of terrific moments, you'd have to travel far and wide to find another stoner song with a vocal melody quite like the one found here.  In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find another band with quite the same sound as Moon Coven.  While there are a great deal of 70's moments on 'Amanita Kingdom', any comparisons to throwback eras would more accurately fall under the heading of late sixties psychedelic.  Closing number "We Were Conquerers" displays this quite vividly, as those pastoral feelings abound on this track.

What you're left with is a positive impression, good times remembered through a haze.  Moon Coven's 'Amanita Kingdom' should put them on the map with a fine five song performance of laidback stoner grooviness.  'Amanita Kingdom' will be released by Transubstans Records on January 15.

Highlights include: "Ruler of Dust" and "East"

Rating: 4/5

1). Ruler of Dust (7:19)
2). Amanita Kingdom (7:03)
3). Amanita Kingdom II (8:00)
4). East (6:37)
5). We Were Conquerors (5:23)
Total Run Time: 34:20

From: Malmö/Jönköping, Sweden

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic, Desert Rock

Reminds me of: Dozer, Greenleaf, Mountain Witch

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Moon Coven on facebook


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