Moondaze - Seek After Venus

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Dazed Music
Catalog Number: DAMCD 0001 001
Format: CD
Total Time: 26:18:00

Moondaze are a quartet out of Switzerland who, while claiming to not be "another common rock band playing songs within the customary schemes...," are rather like three bands that seem to have set (some) parameters of what we call progressive metal and progressive rock. The three specifically are Dream Theater, Queensryche, and Marillion. The latter two are the strongest elements to their sound on this three-track EP Seek After Venus. If you think of Queensryche around the time that their groundbreaking Operation: Mindcrime was released and getting some airplay, you'll have an idea of where Moondaze are at. Now, it's not just that vocalist/keyboardist Manu often sounds like Geoff Tate, but the whole dramatic feel of "3rd November." Here we have a mix of music, vocals, and sound bytes telling the story of a man who takes the life of his family. But it is also a commentary on how we view these events, the detachment and speculation that goes on by the media and ourselves. It's that same cynical view Don Henley remarked upon with his "Dirty Laundry" of (yikes!) 18 years ago ("...bubble-headed bleach blonde comes on at five/She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye..."). Moondaze posit the question whether we give any thought to those whose death has made the news after the item is over? Quite a weighty theme.

I think of Marillion mainly for this reason: the first of the three tracks is called "Got Used To It." For those Marillion-spotters amongst you, you will recall that this is a phrase that Steve Hogarth sings in the "Wave" section of "Goodbye To All That" (Brave). Whether at all this actually has any bearing is purely, well, speculation. Here we have someone who has become accustomed to the status quo in a relationship ... a status quo of non-communication or expression. The other reason I think of Marillion whilst listening to Moondaze is two-fold. There are occasions where Manu sounds like Steve Hogarth, but more prominently, some of the guitar work of Mac sounds like Steve Rothery. It is Manu and Mac who are the highlight performers on this release.

"Got Used To It," starts out as a quiet ballad, but after the first verse, takes on a metallic edge. The drums sound a little splashy, a little soft, despite the bashing they get; the rumbling bass drum flutters in the ears, as sound can do when its overdriving the speakers and you get drop out. This is the only true production quibble. Oh, there is a brief moment, a few seconds only, where I though of classic, heavy Rush. Manu's keyboards are quite tasteful here, and Mac gets to enjoy some tasty, bluesy solo spots in this 8-plus minute track.

"3rd November" begins with a fast tempo beat, a bit of chugga-chugga over spat-out Tate like vocals. But this goes through so many tempos and moods, though never losing its forward momentum. Unfortunately, when it goes off into some interesting groove or rhythm, it stays only long enough to introduce itself before we're carried away on another musical tangent. Listening to it once again, I pick out a few moments that remind of Iron Maiden, mainly because Manu adopts a Bruce Dickinson tone.

The best moment on this trio of tunes is "Un-Coming," which is best described as Queensryche with Steve Rothery on guitar, a subdued Peter Nicholls (IQ) on vocals, with the addition of Hammond organ, all playing an arrangement written by Clive Nolan. It's a tight and concise track that for all its various parts doesn't seem to be trying to be everything at once.

It's a vast improvement over their track on the Progressive DisDURPance Volume 2 sampler all around, and shows promise for a band that could easily move beyond their influences.

Got Used To It (8:50) / 3rd November (11:14) / Un-Coming (6:54)

Mac - guitar
Reichi - bass
Dave - drums
Manu - vocals and keyboards

Life Will Live On (1997) (Demo-CD)
Seek After Venus (1999) (ep)

Genre: Neo Prog

Origin SE

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 800
Language: english


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