Review: Early Moods ‘Early Moods’

Unlike say thirty or so years ago, when bands playing ‘70s, Black Sabbath-inspired, riff-rock was relatively uncommon, these days, one can get lost navigating the mountains of bands worshipping at the Iommi-riff altar. Standing out from the masses can prove to be an arduous task, but Los Angeles, California’s Early Moods have accomplished that task on their self-titled debut. Following the promise shown on the band’s debut EP Spellbound, RidingEasy Records snatched them up, and have now released Early Moods.

Early Moods 'Early Moods'

The band’s mission statement mentions adding NWOBHM influences into their ‘70s doom sound, and that can be heard throughout their rippin’, crunchy, debut album. For one thing, while there’s plenty of fuzz and distortion, there’s a definite crunch to the guitar playing of Eddie Andrade and Oscar Hernandez, which is put on immediate display with the opener, lead single, and video Return To Salem’s Gate. The drive-and-chug in between the chorus, coupled with the tempo recall early thrash as much as doom, and when the band drop into doom-tempo-mode mid-song, there’s a definite bite to the riffage, while Hernandez shred recalls the early ‘70s, offering a nice contrast.

Live To Suffer, meanwhile, stays in mostly doom territory, with massive riffs and a thumping, but clear tempo courtesy of bassist Elix Feliciano and drummer Chris Flores, whose steady beat marches the song along nicely. Again, though the band offer a crunch in their attack, it’s not always heard through the walls of distortion proffered by many of their contemporaries.

Next, Early Moods gives us the always fun, Black Sabbath trifecta (band name, song title, album title) with Early Moods, a somber, doomy cut (not surprisingly) in which vocalist/keyboardist Alberto Alcaraz (who I must mention sports the most impressive ‘fro I’ve seen in rock since Omar Rodriguez-Lopez & Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive In/The Mars Volta fame) shines, displaying his diversity and range, as well as some talking-style vocals, and some more lethal grunts for emphasis. Heavy and clear, Early Moods is sequenced well as the third offering, giving us the epic title track, following a rocker, and a doomy cut.

The band’s mission statement mentions adding NWOBHM influences into their ‘70s doom sound, and that can be heard throughout their rippin’, crunchy, debut album…

Elsewhere, Early Moods present a few more up-tempo, driving rockers with Broken, which features some killer, winding, wah-drenched, chugging riffage, some notable lead work from Hernandez, a great build-up/breakdown, as well as another great vocal performance from Alcaraz. Curse Of The Light recalls the bands stated NWOBHM influence, and earlier doom bands like UK legends Witchfinder General, where Alcaraz gets his best Zeeb Parkes, circa Death Penalty era, on, and the band again engage in a chugging, thrash-esque mid-tempo breakdown complete with a few cowbell hits from Flores, and some more uber-shred from Hernandez.

The crunchy doom is never too far off though, with the somber riffs and march of Funeral Rites, the chugging, lumbering, and catchy, Damnation, and the massive closer Funeral Macabre, which is equal parts early Trouble riffage, and chugging doom like mid-period Candelmass. Funeral Macabre boasts a pretty raging, bashing mid-section, complete with more of Hernandez timely leads, running parallel to Andrade’sriffage.

Early Moods is an accomplished debut, featuring many familiar sounds and styles within the parameters of stoner/doom. However, the bands stated NWOBHM influences show up throughout, adding some melody and a decent sense of songcraft. Additionally, the crunch and tone Hernandez and Andrade bring, separate Early Moods from some of their peers. A cool album cover too, as one can never go wrong with the classic black and white band photo.

Label: RidingEasy Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams