Review: They Watch Us From The Moon ‘Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension’

Lawrence, Kansas has, despite its location and size, spawned the likes of Paw, The New Amsterdams (featuring Matt Pryor of emo heroes The Get-Up Kids), Tool drummer Danny Carey and The Appleseed Cast. Now They Watch Us From The Moon can be added to that pretty exemplary list, so there must be something in the water.

They Watch Us From The Moon 'Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension'
They Watch Us From The Moon ‘Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension’ Artwork

The band are comprised of vocalists Luna Nemeses and Nova 1001001, Zakkatron The Cyborg on bass, R. Benjamin Black on guitar and vocals, Adryon Alin on drums and The General on guitar and vocals. As you’ll have gathered from the band’s name and pseudonyms, there is a general sci-fi/space theme going down which is further highlighted by the album’s cover that could have come from any number of 1950s sci-fi movie posters and is probably the effect the band were going for. Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension is the group’s full-length debut following 2020s Moon Doom EP and what with its wordy title, potentially hints at many more ‘acts’ to come.

On The Fields Of The Moon features some classic Iommi worship, its crushing Middle Eastern flavoured riffs meshing together perfectly with the surprisingly soulful vocals. The soloing is fluid and Gilmour-esque and despite the track’s progressive tendencies manages to maintain its heaviness without straying into pompous self-indulgent territory. A stunning opener.

Space Angel starts almost immediately after the initial obligatory sample and there is definitely more of a heavy psych vibe that reminds one (especially in the vocal department) of labelmates MWWB (formerly Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard) with cool Soundgarden grunginess peppered in along the way for good measure. Whilst a little trippier, it remains somewhat grounded and doesn’t get too far ‘out there’ ala Hawkwind, Monster Magnet et al, yet retains the influence of both.

a superlative and eccentrically enjoyable release that you’ll have on regular rotation…

The delightfully named Mother Of All Bastards is a lot slower than its predecessor and one could say sludgier with moments recalling classic Melvins. The use of what I detect to be a Hammond organ (I could be wrong though, I’m no musician), gives the track a haunting gothic ambience that harks back to …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble era Uriah Heep. It’s demonstrative of the band’s musical adventurousness and is what’s keeping me hooked so far.

The first of two mammoth ten-minute tracks, Creeping AD has a bluesy sensibility about it and guitar playing that once again has one thinking of the aforementioned Dave Gilmour and by extension Pink Floyd, some of Ufomammut’s extended space-rock jamming is featured too. Return To Earth, the second of the album’s epics is also the last, and the promotional notes mention of Queen finally makes sense as there is a feel of the grand, regal and theatrical, it’s easy to envisage the late Freddie Mercury singing this number with Brian May in close accompaniment.

The band’s other key influence David Bowie also makes his presence known with The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars coming to mind. The best way to describe the track is glorious glammy space-rock that is over the top and helps conclude the album in an appropriately bombastic fashion.

As with Brits Church Of The Cosmic Skull, They Watch Us From The Moon, with both their image and concept, have two interesting unique selling points. However, this would be for naught if the music wasn’t any good, which thankfully isn’t the case, what you have instead is a superlative and eccentrically enjoyable release that you’ll have on regular rotation.

Label: New Heavy Sounds
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills