El Moono – ‘The Waking Sun’

By Ash Bebbington

If your music tastes trend towards the heavier end of the scale, chances are you’ve heard the name El Moono before. The Brighton-based quartet has been grinding away on the UK underground metal scene for years, but started attracting significant buzz in 2022 when they released the EP ‘Temple Corrupted’, and appeared at ArcTanGent, a favourite festival of heavy music fans that are always on the lookout for their new favourite band.

Naturally, then, their first full length release ‘The Waking Sun’ has been hotly anticipated by those with their finger firmly on the pulse of the British metal scene. So does it live up to the hype?

In a word, yes. If you enjoy guitar music that’s progressive, interesting, and full to bursting with low-end riffs, this record is an absolute must-listen.

Indeed, listening to ‘The Waking Sun’, it’s pretty easy to see why El Moono is generating so much hype and striking a chord with so many people. This is a band that clearly has lots of diverse influences within the world of rock and metal (and probably some outside it too), and wears them proudly on its sleeve. That means they have a lot to offer to a wide variety of rock fans, regardless of what subgenre they favour

The riffing and chunky low end sound will draw in fans of much heavier bands. The tongue-in-cheek characterful vocals will pull in fans on the radio rock end. And the more expansive melodic sections will appeal to fans of bands like Black Peaks and Deftones.  The sheer groove of it might even pique the interest of classic rock fans. And if you like all of those things? Well, you’re in for a real treat.

The band sit in all of those camps nicely – the songs are proggy and expensive without jumping into double-digit figures in terms of length (longest track is around five and a half minutes). It’s not so heavy as to be off-putting to fans of less heavy material, while being heavy and riffy enough to keep the most discerning riff hound content.

Crucially as well, El Moono are clearly adept at blending all of these influencers together to create a cohesive whole. Some genre-bending bands stray away from this – whether consciously or not – creating music that sounds like it’s a Spotify playlist that’s being skipped through. Not so here. El Moono bring together so many different strands, and have a real ability to cram in as many ideas into five minutes than some proggier bands would do in ten, without it feeling forced or rushed.

Vocalist Zac Jackson is the star of the show on ‘The Waking Sun’, delivering a vocal performance laced with a knowing wit, while delivering punishing insights into the daily struggle of living with depression. He’s also superb at writing choruses, with ‘Screw Loose’ and title track ‘The Waking Sun’ providing absolute earworms that’ll get stuck in your head for days.

The album is full of experimental twists and turns, from the grooving sidewinder of a track that is ‘Haunting’ to ‘Phantom’ which is laced with grotty, pulsing synths. Then there’s ‘The First Man on Mars’ which constantly flips between crushing heaviness and stunning melody.

The quality of the UK underground metal scene has been famously impeccable in recent years, and with the release of ‘The Waking Sun’, El Moono have made a real statement of intent. This band are a fine addition to a thriving scene, and the hype is only likely to build exponentially from here.

ASH BEBBINGTON

Three more album reviews for you

Other Half - 'Dark Ageism'

Tether. – ‘Mirror Work’

LIVE: Slam Dunk Festival @ Hatfield Park, UK