Moodring – ‘Stargazer’

By Sean Reid

Often music trends come and go in cycles – “what old, is new again”. With an ethereal mix of grunge, rock, metal, and shoegaze in their sound, emerging Floridian quartet Moodring is stylistically reminiscent of years gone by. However, their debut full-length, ‘Stargazer’, is far from a nostalgic blast of alt-metal. Over the course of its 11 tracks, they build a compelling set of songs, encompassing various moods.

Arriving a year on from their introductory EP, ‘showmetherealyou’, Moodring’s follow-up leans more on their melancholy. Whereas the aforementioned EP served up a denser sound, yet hinted at the four-piece’s genre-fluidity.

‘Stargazer’ subtly opens with the atmospheric ‘How to Leave Painlessly’ before ‘Disintergrate’s boisterous drums explode. Backed by stirring guitars, Hunter Young’s hushed vocals settle the track down. A chugging bass line, courtesy of Kalan Blehm, segues into a soaring chorus, creating a memorable opener.

An intense grittiness welcomes ‘Constrict’ yet offers one of the album’s most memorable choruses. As Young and Sean Dolich’s vocals serve up a superb melody, Lindy Harter provides domineering drums. The momentum is maintained with ‘Red Light Gossip’ and ‘Peel’. Overall, the first half of ‘Stargazer’ nicely introduces what Moodring are all about; blasting drums, subtle fire-scorched screams, and lofty melodies wrapped in layered instrumentation.

Throughout, Hunter Young has a flair for writing gorgeous melodies that effortlessly blend into Moodring’s dense alt.rock skin. For example, on the titular track, he sings “Stargazer, lifts your eyes towards to the sky, come outside tonight, you’re alive” against a gripping music backdrop of metallic guitars, and smashing percussion.

Fittingly, Moodring are able to shift tones with ease. ’N.I.K.E.’ leans more on their atmospheric side, embracing a stripped back verse before briefly exploding with industrial might; guttural vocals included. As for ‘SYNC.wav’, it’s no surprise the track is being streamed aplenty already. Aside from the clear Deftones comparison, it’s a thriving track that embraces chugging guitars, doubling drum work and evocative lyrics. “Where do I begin and where’s your body end? When we both work as one, synced up,” sings Young in the chorus, with the bridge adding “Let’s sink into each other for a while”.

While Moodring clearly has the ability to blend and change styles throughout ‘Stargazer,’ they do become stylistically stuck in places. ‘Head In The Clouds’ exemplifies the band’s reliable heavy introductions, before settling into a scrappy mix of nu-metal and grunge with another melodic chorus from Young. It’s executed well but the melodies sound recycled.

Thankfully, ‘Novocaine Bones’ radiates as Young achingly sings “not my fault, no one is real,” while supported by stirring instrumentation. It’s a compelling number that puts the album’s momentum back on track. Furthermore, ’Xeno (Foreign Love)’ ends the album on a high note. Massive drums battle for attention against Young’s clean vocals in an explosive chorus. As it wallows atmospherically in the middle, the build-up pays off with towering guitars adding to its astronomical conclusion.

For a debut album, Moodring has firmly made their intentions clear to be one of the year’s most exciting new bands. By blending grunge, metal, and hardcore, with a hint of shoegaze and nostalgia, ‘Stargazer’ is the sound of a band evolving their influences, and injecting it with a modern production shine. The finished product is an enthralling record that toes the line of being heavy and melodic equally. Despite the lack of expansive song structure, it’s clear Moodring has the tools to explore and broaden their stylistic horizons in the future.

SÊAN REID

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