There is something primal, much like a force of nature, about the New Jersey four-piece, The Sun The Moon The Stars. Blurring the genres of metal and stoner rock, the group produces a maelstrom of churning guitars, teeth-rattling bass and tumultuous percussion, accompanied by Matthew Dwyer’s guttural shouts. This is the type of delicious sonic sludge that neophytes of the apocalypse would gleefully drink up as they roam the wastelands.
The band’s first full length release, entitled Mind Reader, is a brutal beast of a record – untamed, unrefined and on the hunt. It’s this wild, unpredictable attitude that is the charm of the record. Its instrumentation is a raging cacophony of dying stars, bleeding planets and falling moons; which is the perfect backdrop for Dwyer’s lyrics, which deal with astral gods, the cosmos and mysticism.
One of the more straight forward metal tracks on the album is “Flesh of the Gods.” The track opens with a sharp, biting guitar riff before Dwyer’s rusty, beer sweetened vocals come in, accented by the harsh punches of Ian Mullen’s drums. Much like all of Dwyer’s lyrics, “Flesh of the Gods” is rife with metaphors and symbolism which seem to form this hazy picture of finding out that an object that renewed your faith and gave you hope turns out to be false. “The dirt had magic eyes/the sea was flat with light/the flames danced and children roamed around the sky/once down you left me in my bed to search the cosmos within your head/when I tried to surf as fast as you I got caught and I fell into/Flesh of the Gods.”
Another of the more memorable tracks is “Moon Crazy.” The song details a night out at the bars where the narrator meets a woman. “Cougars wear masks of women/guard the entrance into sin/still I feel her enter me – inside my body I feel her breathe/and she balances on stilts/her delicate imbalance thrills/while spiders crawl through her hair a web of dreams then fills the air/and we sip on church wine/learn our secrets of life.” The instrumentation of the track is a heady mixture of whirling guitars and thunderous “cracks” from the drums while Dwyer growls, shouts and does his best to croon.
“Firefly, You Shine,” the closing track on Minder Reader, clocks in at a mammoth nine and a half minutes. However, the track never feels muddled or bogged down by stretches of bombastic instrumentation. While not exactly a “slow burn,” The Sun The Moon The Stars are able to maintain the brutal intensity throughout the track, with the last few minutes speeding up – building the cacophonic intensity. “Firefly, You Shine” creates an image of lust, sex and atonement. “Oh lady/you made me this lover/your thighs are mine/dress untied/down I dive/into your third eye/turns malign before my eyes/now I’m blind while the stars align/you’ll drop your crown and down I bow/women now you’re no supreme being/you’ll drop your crown/crooked frown/you’re ugly/ now Shakti arise/I bow down, I bow down/ Mother of Mothers/I bow down.”
The Sun The Moon The Stars have crafted a behemoth of a record with their debut. Dwyer’s metaphor and symbolism saturated lyrics, accompanied by the Thunder Dome-esque instrumentation make The Sun The Moon The Stars a cataclysmic force of nature.
Sound Quality: Mind Reader was made for vinyl. Dwyer’s rusty, beer sweetened vocals have a commanding presence as he howls at the heavens. The instrumentation has a live quality to it, which, even though it’s recorded, has an unpredictability to it. The Sun The Moon The Stars’ bombastic sound fills the room, ensuring that no space is left unfilled.
Packaging: The record comes in a decorated jacket. The back has a large illustration with the track listing below it. The sleeve is the standard, plain white. The highlight of Mind Reader’s packaging is the linear notes. They feel handmade, zine-esque with all the lyrics being hand written and the spaces filled with illustrations. However, at times it is a bit difficult to read Dwyer’s handwriting, but, fortunately, his aggressive shouts are always clear and understandable.
Extras: While the record did not come with a digital download card or a CD copy of the album, the linear notes do include an email address that you can contact to get your digital copy.
Summary: Every radio in every truck in Mad Max’ wasteland will be blaring The Sun The Moon The Stars and Mind Reader.
Make Sure to Spin: “Protostar,” “Flesh of the Gods” and “Red Horned Crown.”