Album Review: Cosmic Chronicles, Act I: The Ascension By They Watch Us From The Moon

They Watch Us From The Moon hails from Lawrence, Kansas, and brings fans otherworldly music with an outer space theme. After listening to them for a bit, you know we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. You could pin any number of genre tags on these mystic travelers of time and space; from heavy psych and space rock to doom and stoner metal and from shoegaze to krautrock, They Watch Us From The Moon leaves nothing off the table and excels at all that they do. This May 12th will see them release a space opera called Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension, which will be released on digital, vinyl, and cd formats via the New Heavy Sounds record label.

About Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension

The album consists of five tracks with a 44-minute and 36-second runtime. During that time, TWUFTM will supply listeners with riffs that run the gamut from stoner to doom, stunning vocals that are as hypnotic as they are beautiful, and a rhythm section so locked in that you’d think them to be of another world altogether. Now consider that the songwriting is of the highest quality, and you know how excellent this record is.

The Songs

“On The Fields Of The Moon” brings us in with a radio broadcast that has an astronaut theme and a doomy grunge guitar part. I had never really noticed this before, but the band has a lot of grunge influences to it,  particularly a strong Alice in Chains feel in the vocal melodies. It’s as if Luna and Nova studied how Jerry Cantrell puts vocals together and then added their spin to it. The song begins the album on a heavy note while still exhibiting the heavy psych side that this band is known for.

“Space Angel” kicks things off with catchy vocals, which is no surprise for longtime fans of the group’s music. However, new fans will be blown away by the end of Cosmic Chronicles, as TWUFTM cranked things up a notch in terms of quality, and these first two tracks exemplify that notion. The guitar tones are quite “metal” sounding, while the more lead-oriented bits have a sizzle perfectly suited to the rest of the music. This tune is as powerful as the first track and one of the best songs on this record.

M.O.A.B.” is short for “Mother of All Bastards” and was the first single released.

“Alien abduction, bases on the Moon, and all things Sci-Fi weave through the entire album,” the band explains. “As with all science fiction, the story leads into a conversation about what path of destruction humans put themselves on to arrive at the future in such a fantastical way. Mother Of All Bastards was written as a reflection of that in our times. The lyrical imagery paints a very dower picture of a future yet to come and our inability to stop it.”

The beauty of the music and vocals runs contrary to the lyrical topic and has similarities to the best grunge album ever made, Dirt by Alice in Chains. The vocal melody is where this is felt the most, but even the music has that vibe mixed with a healthy dose of doom and gloom. Everything is perfectly laid down, but the vocals truly steal the spotlight; they are so wonderful, and the dual vocalist approach is at its best here.

“Creeper AD” has a Pink Floyd influence and a lot of space-psych goodness. The guitar solo that runs for the first four minutes is very David Gilmour and fits perfectly into the music behind it; every song should start as well put together as this one does. The verse has a Candlemass type of guitar part, single notes and gloomy, displaying yet another incredible vocal performance. The vocals are a huge part of why I love this band so much; they’re always impeccable and utilize an outstanding sense of melody that serves the music well.

“Return To Earth” is almost as long as “Creeper AD” (both cross the 11-minute mark) and is just as entertaining. They Watch Us From The Moon take advantage of all the tools at their disposal, from the female vocals to some haunting deep male vocals to the excellence displayed in all the musical elements. Those deep male vocals are a fantastic counterpoint to the lead vox and may even give off a Viking vibe for some. The choruses are enormous in scope, showing off a bit of the higher end of the singers’ range, and the lead guitar gives off a spacey psych tone that is perfectly in keeping with the rest of the song.

Final Thoughts

I will come right out and say it; this is the best album of its kind in May. They Watch Us From The Moon deliver the goods on every level possible, and they do it with all the skill they possess, making this a must-hear album.

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