The Absence by Luna Mortis
Release date : February 2009
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
Formerly dubbed The Ottoman Empire, Madison, Wisconsin quintet Luna Mortis self-issued inaugural album Way of the Blade during 2006. This culminated in the cutting of four tracks with producer Jason Suecof (who's worked with such acts as Trivium, Chimaira and All That Remains) in February 2008 at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, with Don DeBiase (having worked with outfits like Forever In Terror and Beneath the Sky) handling pre-production. In mid July 2008, it was revealed that Luna Mortis had inked a record contract with Century Media Records. On September 1st, the group returned to Audiohammer with Suecof to complete recording a second full length, their inaugural effort as Luna Mortis. Midway into the month, studio video footage surfaced. Recording sessions had concluded by early October, and more video footage surfaced by the month's midway point. The album was slated for an early 2009 issue. In November, the album's title was revealed to be The Absence, and a February 2009 North American release was pencilled in.
Later that November, the track “Never Give In” was made available for streaming via Luna Mortis' official MySpace page. Via MetalSucks.net, the group digitally released the Christmas single “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” on December 18th, making it freely available. During mid January 2009, “Ash” was made available for streaming via Luna Mortis' MySpace page. A Century Media podcast, which materialized in early February, featured a segment dubbed On The Record where drummer Erik Madsen and bassist Jake Mare discussed how The Absence came to fruition. Days later, the track “Forever More” was available for streaming through the outfit's MySpace page. Filmed at the Monroe Arts Center, an erstwhile church situated in Monroe, Wisconsin, “Forever More”'s video was directed by David Brodsky (who's directed videos by The Black Dahlia Murder and Bleeding Through, amongst others).
Luna Mortis strive to become one of Metal's premiere female led outfits, and by issuing The Absence, the group challenges all that stand before their path. Mary Zimmer employs both melodic and cryptic, growling vocals, the group failing to set a precedent or reinvent a genre. As opposed to this, the act hope to continually perfect an already weighty Metal sound. Gratifyingly, Zimmer knows what she wishes to accomplish vocally, and very rarely wanders off this path.
In terms of what Luna Mortis is striving to musically achieve, “Ruin” is certainly the most potently authored cut of The Absence's tracks. The number immediately launches into a strong Power Metal ballad, with timely growls figuring amongst the ingredients, not to mention an atmospheric wall of sound which consumes the gaps. “Ruin” is one of a few select compositions where Zimmer actually steals the limelight, since upon The Absence's other tracks, the dual guitar assault executed by Brian Koenig and Cory Scheider actually steals the limelight, favouring both crushing time changes and periodic solo runs.
By far, “Reformation” isn't the greatest track upon this full length, though it's excitable, chomping riffs prove enough to maintain its quality. Crawling onwards via moments which build and eventually morph into crushing riffs, “The Departure” supplies The Absence's melodic ballad. Bassist Jacob Bare and drummer Erik Madsen contribute respectable performances upon this track, the album's lone occasion where Zimmer opts not to incorporate growling. Amongst The Absence's numbers, “Embrace the End” is likely the most difficult track to consume, but is additionally the most unique. Blatantly out of key guitar riffs inaugurate the track, riffs which resurface during different sections. At this point however, Zimmer has seemingly lost her voice, the woman's bellows audibly rough. After all is said and done though, The Absence supplies Metal fans with an exciting topic to discuss.
As previously stated, The Absence isn't attempting to craft a whole, fresh sound, but execute this established sound in a much greater fashion than many other 2009 acts. Within a future track, it'd be great to hear Zimmer handle clean, melodic vocals whilst a male vocalist contributes Death growls - listeners could subsequently hear what such a blend spawns. Zimmer exploits a perfect mixture upon The Absence, and with the exception of swansong cut “Embrace the End”, has one of the sonically greater female growls. Well versed, the guitar work of Koenig and Scheider rivals some of the greatest Metal acts. Since shedding the moniker The Ottoman Empire in favour of Luna Mortis, the group has quickly gained a mature and exciting songwriting style. With grippingly melodic and crushing, grunty vocals, should Zimmer's outpourings fail to stir something inside of you, then Koenig and Scheider's smashing guitar riffs will irrefutably achieve that goal.