Every once in a while, a band will come along with a sound thatwill be incredibly difficult to pigeonhole. All of the elements will point towards different genres and subgenres, and no matter which way your mind veers towards you still will never truly be able to definitively group them into a specific style.
Sonic Moon are one of those bands. While it would be easy to say hard rock, classic rock, or even desert rock, none of these really encapsulate the band at all. There are elements of psychedelia in the mix, and a little doom too, such is the nature of the band, they won’t be for your average fan in any of those arenas.
The truth is, Sonic Moon is ALL and NONE of these styles, all at the same time. When they are heavy there are definite nods to Black Sabbath, while at other moments you could be transported into a world of psychedelic prog, not unlike several of the iconic ’70s bands.
For reviewing purposes, it wouldn’t be fair to say if you thought of ‘70s Sabbath with a bit of Pink Floyd in the mix you wouldn’t be far off, because as a fan of both, if someone said those names to me, and that was it, It wouldn’t even scratch the surface of just what Sonic Moon encapsulate. To elaborate further, at times throughout Return Without Any Memory, especially on tracks such as Through The Snow and Distant there are such cathartic experiences to be had, that neither Sabbath nor Floyd would actually come near to being comparable.
With that in mind, I would like to share some of my thoughts of the album, and so with a little dissecting, will try and explain what I have been going on about clearer.
Let’s start with album opener The Water, which starts things rolling with an infusion of fuzz-drenched guitars and bass, overlaying a heavy dark drum progression. Add to this a smoky drawn-out vocal, you could easily be transported to any dive bar from the ‘70s. Not bad really, considering that Sonic Moon are from Denmark, hardly the band you would conjure up to be making such a filthy soundtrack. But that’s the thing, you could just as easily picture yourself driving through the desert, on a blistering day, with your aviators on, and a joint neatly nestled between your fingers.
an infusion of fuzz-drenched guitars and bass, overlaying a heavy dark drum progression…
And that is why this band are so hard to categorise, because by the start of track two, Tying Up The Noose, The Sabbath vibe is lurching its way across your stereo platforms. More so ‘70s Sabbath than ‘60s Floyd, but I’m sure you will understand if you take the time to check the band out. It’s that easy, desert rock, to doomy, within the turn of the track. That being said, one of my favourite pieces on the album is up next, Give It Time, and that is for those Black Sabbath vibes. Its thunderously low fuzzy hooks of the guitar and bass are a homage to Butler and Iommi, and hell, even the drum is reminiscent of Mr Ward.
What I do really enjoy with the Sonic Moon though is the ability to change things up, and mess with the dynamic. Through The Snow, as I mentioned earlier, gives an opportunity for some catharsis, and in doing so, shifts the gears on what the band are capable of. More chilled, with a dream-like ambience to it, it gives a feeling of weightlessness if you close your eyes and let it take you away. It has a soothing factor to it, and a sweeping quality, as if being caught in a slipstream.
Head Under The River pulls us back into the moody drudge as it dares to drop things down once more before Distant pulls all its energy into a really dark place and transforms it into a plateau of that psychedelic catharsis I was talking about earlier. It isn’t ambient like Through The Snow, in fact, quite the opposite, but by its climax, I feel more at ease with the world.
As far as closing tracks go on albums, usually they fall into massive last hurrah explosions or moody numbers that die off, into nothingness. With Hear Me Now, neither is the case and even up to the dying seconds, it’s just as driving as previous tracks have been.
Considering this is their first full-length release, such is their prowess, it doesn’t sound like a band who are starting out, it’s a real testament to them as it feels more like an album from a well-seasoned band who have been around for years. Although it’s quite eclectic and retro, it’s also something very new, and I for one applaud Sonic Moon for carving their own niche in an ever-expanding genre.