MOANAA - Descent

Moanaa - Descent

8 songs
59:38 minutes
***** ***


The last few years have seen so many new musical genres being invented that at times it is really hard for people to hear the same thing when listening to a hitherto unknown band. Take for instance Moanaa, a sextet from Southern Poland with two vocalists. Founded in 2008, they released a first EP two years later, and then came with their debut longplayer Descent in the autumn of 2014. Their main stylistic points of reference are the moody elegy of post rock and the harsh brutality of post metal, with doom and sludge metal motifs also finding their way into the sound. It is therefore logical that the band is labelling their genre atmospheric sludge metal, even though in reality it is a well concocted mix of different elements, in order to find a niche of their own.

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to declare that Moanaa have reinvented music, but their smart combination of related sounds into something new works all the way through. Take for instance the opener Sunset Growing Old, which starts with a mellow acoustic guitar, then switches to electric instrumentation in the vein of atmospheric post rock bands, before halfway into the track, the vocals finally show that this is a metal band. Another favourite track is Lit, a crushing eight minute behemoth that shows that Moanaa have spared no efforts to come up with an incredibly intense production. The fact that more than half of the songs are running for at least eight minutes shows that the sextet is fond of adding a lot of ideas. In that regard they remind me a little of Neurosis who were also masters of moody metal music.

It is also really commendable that Moanaa are one of the few new bands that just have some good songs early on in the album and then end with their less interesting material. Not so these guys. The last three tracks seem to belong together, with the short intro Ion... making it to the longer ...Mills, before the album ends with the majestic Away, a piece that starts out slowly enough but soon builds up tension and momentum to end in an eerily psychedelic way, as if Voivod had come by to say hello.

Descent is not reinvent post rock or post metal, but the judicious blend of styles still gives the sextet enough recognition value. Add to this good and inventive songwriting, plus a more than just fitting production, and you are left with one of the more intriguing and pleasing post metal albums of recent times. Fans of Cult Of Luna, Pelican, Isis and the likes should definitely stop by.

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