Early Moods by Early Moods

Release date: October 21, 2022
Label: Riding Easy Records

Sweeping generalisation time: Los Angeles bands have a swagger. No matter what sort of music, LA outfits always seem to add a bit of self-assured sneer or strut. In the early 1980s a band took the essentials of British heavy metal, added some attitude and hairspray and became Mötley Crüe. Still earlier a group took the nihilism of British and New York punk, added some good ol’ California alienation and became Black Flag. And at the end of the 1980s, both Slayer and NWA brought some West Coast bluster to their respective genres of thrash metal and hip-hop.

It is nice to see the tradition continuing with Early Moods, who are a five-piece from the City of Angels that formed in 2015. At first glance of the cover art of their self-titled debut you could conclude from the hirsuteness, frilled leather jackets, big belt buckles and retro sunglasses that they play heavy music steeped in 1970s Sabbath worship. And that is even before you notice that they have signed to Riding Easy Records.

But there is more to this band than a tuning to D and riffing slowly while the vocalist wails quotes inspired by the Book of Revelations and Aleister Crowley. Sure, there are a heap of occultist lyrics here (some of the members of Early Moods used to play in death metal bands, so they are well acquainted with Old Nick) and a ton of killer riffs, but that is not all.

You see, they have taken their collective affinity for doom (they namecheck Candlemass and Saint Vitus as influences) and thrown in some 1980s metal flavours – galloping drums, harmonies, wailing vocal lines and melody. Oh, and a healthy dose of guitar solos.

As the guitarist Eddie Andrade explains: “We wanted to show that heavy doom can be complemented with melodies and harmonies. Black Sabbath meets New Wave of British Heavy Metal is what we aim for, really.”

And from the opening track, ‘Return to Salem’s Gate’ that’s exactly what you get. From a slow, foreboding intro, we are treated to galloping drums, wailing guitars and a high-register chorus of “No one will ever hear you cryyyyyy” from the impressive lead vocalist Alberto Alcaraz. This is indeed high quality metal.

The swagger again comes to the fore in the second track, ‘Live to Suffer’, which has a hook-laden catchiness approaching that of Heaven and Hell-era Sabbath. You get the impression that flames – lots of them – would accompany this track when played live.

Even on the more doom-imbued songs, like ‘Early Moods’ (see, it takes some chutzpah to not only name your album after your band, but also write a moody epic doom song with the same title) and ‘Damnation’ the band keep their peacock feathers proudly on display – and quite rightly so too.

Another highlight is ‘Curse of the Light’, which has pretty much all you need in an old-school metal song: a made-for-air-guitar riff to start it off, some thunderous drums to signal a breakdown and another palm-muted riff that you just know would be injurious to your skeleton if you saw it live. Then after a just-right melodic chorus, the song is topped off with another guitar solo soaked in wah-wah effects.  

Some might say nobody needs this record. I mean we already have Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Candlemass and all the other bands that have been influenced by the elder statespeople of heavy music. But that would be to do Early Moods a disservice. Sure, they freely admit that they have plucked influences, but what you and I, the listeners, discover is that they have not copied and pasted. For all the dusty 1970s touchstones that Early Moods use, they make a noise that sounds fresh and exciting. And being from LA, they give it a bit of LA oomph.

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