Review: Lunar Shadow – The Smokeless Fires

Lunar Shadow – The Smokeless Fires (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Review by Milos Sebalj

German Heavy Metal? Yes, please, give it to me, and lots of it! And then I get “The Smokeless Fires”. I seriously expected something in the vein of Grave Digger, Running Wild or at least Helloween/Gamma Ray type of music. Well, I guess everyone expects something like this to come from Germany. However, Lunar Shadow doesn’t seem to care about what we expect.

Deutsch quintet started their journey five years ago, and “The Smokeless Fires” is their second full length album. What they did here is switch the attention across the ocean. This record sounds very American. Certain German touches, mostly in the more aggressive parts, do suggest their origin. Still, I have a feeling Iced Earth is more to their liking than their country mates. Most of the album does not “rush” anywhere. Rarely do you find fast tempos. Lunar Shadow’s music is rather intended to feelings. Mostly melancholic atmosphere rules on these 44 minutes. It is mentioned in the information sheet that this release is intended to questioning of the self, so I can only conclude that exactly that atmosphere was what the Germans intended to create. So, the songs are quite long and diverse in their arrangement, achieving the mentioned feel. The mentioned info sheet says that this is “Epic Classic Metal going head-to-head with blazing Scandinavian Black Metal“. Either I’m deaf, or somebody has no idea about Scandinavian Black Metal. I failed miserably in my intent on finding any shred of something similar to it. A couple of background screams in „Laurelindorenan“, tremolos and a short blast-beat on the closing track hardly make for a complete genre influence. Oh, and the logo I’ve found on Metal Archives looks very Black Metallish. On the other hand, the „epic Classic Metal“ label stands. Even going to the nowadays Iron Maiden heights as the album gets to its end. Borderline Progressive.

Lunar Shadow certainly displays a high technical level. The abundance of different partitudes in each song says a lot about their creative skills. Piano introduction to the opening track, female choir on „Red Nails For The Pillar Of Death“, bunch of solo parts in every song and a whole lot of other tricks that the Germans pull out of their sleeves makes this album very challenging for a listener. This is surely not a record that will get you on the first listening. Melodic guitars are the forerunners, as they should be on a Heavy Metal release. Rhythm section firmly holds the ground, allowing even the bass guitar enough „on air“ time. The weak point for me would be the vocal parts. Though they do the job just fine, I would prefer them to be more convincing. Seems like the vocalist was given a certain „range“ in which to operate, without room to express himself as he could.

“The Smokeless Fires” stands as a very ambitious attempt. It is nothing groundbreaking for sure, but bear in mind that it took just two years to complete a complex album like this. And Lunar Shadow is a very young band. I am more than curious to find out what they come up with next. You should be too. The third album might just be a rocket to propell them into stardom.