I listen to a lot of music, and by extension, I listen to a lot of metal. Lately I have been a little underwhelmed by surprises in the metalsphere, at least in terms of approach and style. There is a massive OSDM revival going on where lots of bands are aping Bolt Thrower, and while that’s not a bad thing, I am ready for whatever the next wave of inspiration will be. In the past year I have been excited by bands like Miscreance and Critical Extravasation, who have reached back to the days of Atheist and Death for their inspiration, but in the end, this is something that feels like a recycled approach. I’ve been trying to find that band that feels wholly original rather than riding the wave of a stylistic revival. I’m happy to say that I think Lunar Chamber is a band that is reaching into the past and the future at the same time. Let me elaborate.
The first thing to note about the band is that 20 Buck Spin picked up their debut EP. This is no small feat, as plenty of bands aspire to be on this stellar label which has seen so many excellent bands over the years. While I try to celebrate the bands more than the business side of things, it’s hard to not be intrigued by such a signing. So the question that follows is what did 20BS see in this band? Skill. Unadulterated skill. That’s what it was.
Shambhallic Visions has five tracks, with one being an intro track and one being an interlude. Now, normally I’d hate this approach, but I don’t think it detracts from the listening experience at all. The intro is a great ramp into the atmosphere and the interlude does feel like a genuine connective tissue from one song to the next. Now, let’s get on to the heart of this release. There are three main songs, with “Spirit Body and the Seeing Self” being the first one up after the intro and there is a lot thrown into this genre blender right from the jump. Synths, guitar harmonics, and and quick rolling riffs chime in before the blasting begins. The drumming by Kevin Paradis is crisp and leans into his deathgrind roots quite easily, while the shredding guitars from Brandon J. Iacovella and Kyle Walburn evoke shades of multiple eras of tech-death at once. There are angular stops and starts and the riffs never stop the entire time. The tones feel very immediate and current, not unlike those from Fallujah at times. Underneath all of this, the froggy and fretless bass lines from Thomas Campbell give not only rhythmic foundation but are a genuine feature.
There are so many great tricks up the sleeves of all of these players, with each song featuring beautiful timing changes, lovely (and uncharacteristic) chord progressions, and the knowledge of when to lay into the groove and when to go absolutely nuts. The final two songs take up the bulk of the EP’s runtime with “The Bodhi Tree” closing in on seven minutes and the grand finale, “III. Crystalline Blessed Light Flows… From Violet Mountains Into Lunar Chambers” is closer to thirteen minutes. Both of these songs are incredible demonstrations of composition, dynamics, and technical skill. There are clean, foreboding vocals, quiet moments of respite, shred-a-thons, and the galloping rhythm section is something at which I was consistently agape. The genre lines get slowly blurred as this record weaves its way into doom, death-doom, tech-death, and each layer is separated by a thick atmospheric frosting that is delicious and perfectly ties each delicious moment to the next.
As stated near the beginning, this is the kind of thing that I love to see, and I personally think needs to happen for metal to progress in a true fashion. Rather than cycle through classic tropes over and over, Lunar Chamber is reaching into the past from bands such as Cynic and Demilich but are also looking for new ways to interpret that sound and make something unique, original, and incredibly competent. This release genuinely excites me and gets me fired the fuck up. The future is bright for Lunar Chamber and I already can’t wait to see where they go from here. Shambhallic Visions needs to be on everyone’s radar, playlist, and turntable. This is the future of tech-death that honors the past and present and pushes the genre into the future.