Luna Rise - 'Dark Days & Bright Nights'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we focus our gaze on Luna Rise, an up and coming indie group hailing from Austria. Their new record is a lengthy release entitled ‘Dark Days & Bright Nights,’ a long-awaited effort that is being put out by NRT-Records. In recent years, the band has made a name for themselves with some successful EP efforts and music videos. This album is their definitive full record debut, though.

Here on the Spotlight, we often get the opportunity to delve into projects before or right as they are released. As is the case with ‘Dark Days & Bright Nights,’ since it just recently came out and you can grab the full record across all platforms. The band occupies a peculiar sonic space, describing themselves as an otherworldly cross between Bon Jovi, Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne, and many others. That’s pretty broad, which may be a good thing, since it indicates a desire to experiment with a whole bunch of sounds. The same can be said for their genre classifications: melodic rock with gothic, death, hard, progressive, and metal themes.

Right, so let’s get right into the album. As aforementioned, it’s a bulky effort, clocking in at a meaty twelve tracks. You’ll be introduced to Luna Rise with ‘Demons Inside,’ a harmonic rocker tinged with sparse synthesizers and dramatic instrumentation. I immediately saw the connection to acts like Ozzy and Bon Jovi; ‘Demons Inside’ certainly draws inspiration from arena-pleasing rockers. Lead vocalist Chris Divine has a bit of a Bon Jovi vibe. That said, he’s a sharp voice that accentuates the composition incredibly well. There’s also some excellent guitar play toward the latter half of the tune.

‘RZPKT’ is a noticeable departure from the opening track. It incorporates a bit more metal and hard rock influence. It’s a heavy hitting jammer chock-full of searing electric guitar and bombastic power chords. I found it admirable that Luna Rise makes an effort so early on to showcase an array of sounds, and that most certainly extends to the superb ‘Valentine,’ which also happens to be a single for the album. That track is particularly engaging - it’s catchy, fun, and well performed. (Check out the link at the end of this article to see the ‘Valentine’ music video.)

‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ is a bit lackluster, though it does have it moments. For the most part, though, it embraces too many early 2000s alternative rock cliches to be taken too seriously. It feels like a rejected All American Rejects song. Fortunately, the awkward blunder is mostly remedied by ‘For A Reason,’ a much more concrete and original effort. The clash between 80s rock tropes and contemporary pop musings provides an interesting atmosphere on ‘For A Reason.’

Now, ‘The Secret In You’ marks the halfway point of ‘Dark Days’ with quite a spectacle. It is, by a significantly huge margin, the best song of the first six. This haunting track perfectly matches beautiful vocals with stunning instrumentation. Atmospheric echoes, a brief piano, and a string section build around Divine with impressive force. At first, I was somewhat apprehensive because I thought Divine’s delivery was a bit too overdelivered. After listening to the track several times, however, I realized that his overemphasis of notes adds to the dramatic overtone of the tune. I’d align him with Robert Smith or the like - Smith is one of the most recognizable frontmen of all time for a very similar vocal style.

‘Silent Screams’ effortlessly picks up where ‘The Secret In You’ leaves off for a powerhouse pop-rock performance. I’d argue ‘Silent Screams’ is one of, if not the, most accessible track on the collection - even more so than ‘Valentine.’ Thus, the song is perfect for what it is: it’ll get a crowd pumped up. I also dig the continuation of the band’s experimentation with synthesizers.

‘Worshippin’ Shadows’ is a brooding, slightly darker tune, but I don’t think it is a particularly strong one. It’s more of an interlude between the infectious ‘Silent Screams’ and the killer ‘Until The Stars Have Come.’ The latter is a fantastic tune, one that incorporates a female guest vocalist that beautifully accents Divine. In fact, it’s one of the best performances of the twelve - the guest vocalist brings a remarkable element of beauty to the song.

Right, I’ve yammered on quite a bit in this review, but that’s just because there’s a lot to discuss. Luna Rise has a lot going for them. Let’s touch on the ending three tracks. ‘In Your Arms’ boasts some rather good compositional elements, especially with the guitar riffs. ‘The Storm’ is similarly riff-endowed, but is heavily littered with 80s synthesizer-heavy influence and sound effects. It’s incredibly enjoyable. Finally, ‘The Anthem of the Night’ offers a remarkable sense of finality with a cinematic, harmonious outro. It’s a fitting ending.

Aside from a few hiccups, ‘Dark Days & Bright Nights’ is a complete success. Luna Rise has mastered their sound and infused it with a hell of a lot of personality. All of their self-descriptions are pretty apt, but I’ll throw yet another into the mix: at times, the band feels like a odd evolution of the Cure. That’s a good thing, though. Who doesn’t love the Cure? There’s plenty at play on the record, and standouts like ‘The Anthem of the Night,’ ‘Silent Screams,’ and ‘The Secret In You’ exhibit a great range of styles. Check the band and record out below.

'Valentine' Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Umh-3qxSmk

Luna Rise - Official Website : http://www.lunarisemusic.com
Listen To Luna Rise on special Free App (Flash Required): http://luna-rise.zimbalam.de/?lang=en
Listen To Luna Rise @ Spotify : https://play.spotify.com/artist/2gOyUqu0HAnxk3neoxqXud
Listen To Luna Rise @ Deezer : http://www.deezer.com/artist/4649884
Luna Rise @ Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/lunarise
Luna Rise @ Bandcamp : http://luna-rise.bandcamp.com
Luna Rise @ ITunes : https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/luna-rise/id482267037
Luna Rise @ Google Play : https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/Luna_Rise?id=Autah5gh7tbygcweyu7xfawim4u
Luna Rise @ NRT-Records : http://www.nrt-records.com/luna_rise_eng.html