The dissolution of omni-talented NY power-trio Exemption last year, seemingly five minutes after I’d just discovered them, was, as far as I’m concerned, one hell of a tragic loss to the world of genuinely interesting and innovative music. That they went basically unsung to their premature rest was something of a crime.
Of course, such things can’t keep true talent down and now guitar wunderkind Nick Lee and drum-god Raymond Marte hath finally re-emerged blinking into the light with this first recording of new four-piece project Moon Tooth, and boy is it a doozy!
For Moon Tooth, the hyperkinetic, hyperactive duo of Lee and Marte are joined by erstwhile Rice Cultivation Society drummer-turned-Moon-Tooth-frontman John Carbone on rather superb vocals and low-end theorist Vincent Romanelli of brootal death slam providers Give Up The Goods on bass, and it’s a supremely harmonic match – both figuratively and literally.
The energy just spills out of Freaks in a raging torrent of sounds, battering the ears and daring you not to dig it. It’s impossible not to be drawn in by the sheer exuberance on display here.
From the get-go Moon Tooth just don’t let up, with ‘Ebb/Flow’ fading briefly in from ambience to become a razor-edged whirl of choppy guitar and clattering drums with Lee alternating between a scything rhythmic chug and tumbling razor-wire runs with Marte driving the beast, matching Lee beat-for-frenetic-beat whilst Romanelli sets up a throbbing base for the others to build upon. Carbone’s smoothly low-key vocal soon joins the fray with Lee spitting throat-shredding venom on backing vocals as we quickly hit the clanging spaciness of the frantic chorus and Carbone opens up the vocal throttle. Totally berserk and utterly infectious, all good things must come to an end, sadly, and Lee brings the whole tight-as-a-gnats-chuff thing down with full-blown cosmic space-rock effected chording that sits atop and overtakes the pounding razorblade rhythm.
‘Goon’ gives Carbone a chance to show off his full-throated rock roar as Lee and Marte run rings around one another, Marte tossing out blast-beats as accents like it ain’t no thing and Lee shrieking himself hoarse on backing screams, playing up a total storm that makes judicious use of a well-aimed Whammy pedal, and ‘Storm Pill’ takes the direction that Mastodon should have gone in for The Hunter and smushes it together with Faith No More, circa Angel Dust to make a track that explodes with great vocal lines, scorching guitar lines and more energy than a glucose-overdose and Mars bar enema. Seriously, there’s so much killer stuff going on here that my ears may vibrate into another dimension just trying to take it all in. If I were to choose one track to illustrate exactly why people really ought to be drooling all over Moon Tooth, this would be the one.
Freaks wraps up with the busily melodic charms of ‘Silver Gallows’, wherein Lee plays his damn heart out, Marte just about manages to reign it in and Carbone shows his full range to spectacular effect. Lee’s soloing here is absolutely sublime, having a definite edge of Fripp and McLaughlin to it and his silvery harmonic runs are to die for.
It’s always a wrench when a band that you think are special break up, but in the case of Exemption leading to Moon Tooth, I confess that it’s entirely possible that it was for the best, for good as Exemption were, Moon Tooth seem to have that indefinable something that could seriously lead to greater things.
It must only be a matter of time before some bright spark at one of the bigger labels realises a good thing when he hears it and pounces on Moon Tooth, and given the support and the funding to help nurture their obvious talents one can only imagine exactly how fantastic the fruits of that union could be. Bang! Zoom! Straight to the Moon….Tooth!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson