Web Of Deception is the name of the first album by Dutch prog metal outfit Moonstruck. Having previously released an EP called Impact over a year ago which certainly left an “impact” on this reviewer (sorry I couldn’t help myself), I was keen to hear an album worth of new songs by the band. The 5-piece certainly deliver a quality set of songs and music which again shows their influences but still manages to sound like Moonstruck. The songs vary from 3 and a half minutes up to 11 allowing a bit of variety to the listener. There are plenty of riffs, guitar solos and powerful vocals to enjoy and the band are very tight indeed. Despite only having a digital copy for reviewing at the moment I can tell the improvement in the production from the previous EP. That was an entree, this is the main course!
The album opens with the title track, a 6-minute powerhouse of a song. It opens with a guitar motif (which resurfaces throughout at points) with a drum surround. Singer Arnold Kloek then flexes his muscles with a few “woahs” before breaking into song. The chorus is really good. Infectious yet wordy and intelligent. The lyrics seem to be about the corrupt world especially politically with money changing hands to deceive. There is a break just over halfway through which gives a change of mood and pace before the guitar solo breaks out. The chorus speeds up then a frenetic solo comes in with the title being sung over it until the song abruptly stops. All that in song one! Good start.
The longest track is called “Metamorphosis” and runs at 11 minutes. To their credit, it doesn’t feel that long, as it builds up the mood. Opening with gentle guitar with a lovely electric guitar counterpoint. The vocal is sweet as is the slightly Michael Schenker guitar piece in the background. The band comes in more and more with bass and drums played with a softness to match until about 3 minutes in when the song fully kicks in. The song changes and transforms capturing the mood of the words. There is a touch of Iron Maiden as it starts galloping along and into the guitar solos. I admit I am a sucker for solos that have feeling and emotion and do not become fretboard wanking and pleasingly throughout the solos of Vincent Van Den Bosch and Ronald Bloc deliver that style of sound.
“Beyond Your Wildest Dreams” is shaped in a way that allows the voice of Arnold to be an instrument on his own. The music at points seems to be built around the lyric lines. There are moments that again remind me of both Queensryche and Nevermore especially vocally in the sections where the lyrics ask to “fly with me, I will take you beyond your wildest dreams” with manic laughs, suggesting it may not be such a good idea! The drumming of Michel Blanken at the end of the manic vocals is terrific. Despite the chopping and changing of styles they still manage to attach a chorus which is hummable! This has a good mix of prog and metal along with an element of theatre.
“Wasting Time” would make a very good single in my opinion. A more simple sounding track (for a prog metal band) with a chorus to belt out in “Show me how to live, show me how to die”. The verses sound urgent and slightly scary whereas the chorus has an easy uplifting melody line. The mid eight is fun with mentions of superheroes (well if Jethro Tull could get away with it…) and a freaky vocal. I did mention “simple” but there are still plenty of different sections and a rather pleasing guitar solo (just after the superheroes section). A really cracking track.
“Restless Mind” is a grower. It took a few listens until I started to fully appreciate it. Strange as it has one moment which made me think of my personal favorite band Rush. Ok, it lasts about 3 or 4 seconds but that is still enough for me to pay more attention! There is lots of guitar work throughout the song, indeed the opening is an opportunity to solo. The guitar harmonies again are very nicely worked out, a bit Priest-like which is always good to hear. At the end of the guitar and drum section, a synth type chord is played straight out of “Tom Sawyer” with the drum beating a sound not too dissimilar to Neil Peart‘sat the intro as well. The song is quite atmospheric and sounds slightly claustrophobic. The main guitar solo has effects and for some reason made me think of Big Country, albeit more proggy. The words float around with various modes of transport and travel and do convey the idea of restlessness.
Closing song “The Assassin’s Blade” is a belter with plenty of riffs with changes of mood and timings throughout. From the quiet opening (sounds like a piano?) with short drum fills and then electric guitar eventually into a real toe-tapping, head nodding melody line. From that, it moves on apace into a more urgent sounding heavier piece to go with the lyrics about “the blade comes down… he is Judas stealer of lives”. Again there is an element of theatrics where music, vocal delivery and words come together. I love the way they use words as almost full lines in “eliminates, liquidates, eradicates” as an extra chorus almost. The way the guitars sound a little playful during the threatening vocals about “weapons of…” is also nicely worked. As you can tell I really like this.
For a first album, this is particularly impressive. There is plenty to enjoy on Web Of Deception and the more listens you give it (especially with headphones on) the more you hear and get out of it.
Quality progressive metal from Holland.
Album is released 26/01/2019.