Samsara by Moth Loves the Flame

Release date: December 23, 2017
Label: Bandcamp

It’s hard for any band to lose a singer. With good voices at a premium, it can often be hard for any nascent band to convince a new guy that theirs is the right horse to back. That was not a problem for Moth Loves the Flame, however. Having lost their vocalist back in January, it’s taken less than a year for them to bounce back with a new album, with new singer Ewa Brejnak in tow.

Having made waves with debut single ‘The Journey’ back in 2016, it is hard to recognise Samsara as the work of the same band. The Huddersfield quintet’s sound has moved on drastically, from pleasant if somewhat derivative Alt-Rock to dreamier, more relaxed soundscapes, channeling Pink Floyd and latter-day Anathema, while still retaining a heavier edge when necessary. This is an adventurous band, with multiple melodic guitar tones intertwining well with each other, and with Brejnak they have found a soulful centerpiece for the band, her voice adding a twinge of Blues charm to proceedings.

If there is a problem with Samsara’s five tracks, it’s a lack of variety. Each track has a similar pattern – soothing melodies, occasionally interrupting into something harder. This gives the album a cohesive feel, but it also makes it hard to distinguish any song from another. Each track does have its own subtleties – ‘Ghost Town’ has a country tinge, ‘Dark Clouds Gather’ stands out as the heavier one, while instrumental ‘Hollow Chamber’ sounds like David Gilmour binge listening to Explosions in the Sky. The highlight is ‘Head Into the Blue’, a poignant ending to the album that feels like a surrender to despair, while still managing to retain a sense of optimism.

The lyrics are delivered in short, punctuated bursts, giving them a feeling almost like a lullaby. This creates a very unique experience when mixed together with the music, but ultimately strips the songs of any emotional attachment – themes of paranoia and loss don’t seem to be fully explored. Again, lyrically the band seems to stick to the same formula, and a bit more deviation would be nice.

Moth Loves the Flame have potential to become something special. It’s never easy to carve your own sound, but with Samsara’s mix of post rock, blues and a dash of metal, they have definitely succeeded. Where they fail is exploring the limits of their potential. Given a year or two, and a bit more ambition, they could create a truly phenomenal album. As it is, Samsara is an excellent taster.

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