It’s been 6 years since any music was heard from Singaporean rock/metal band Lunarin, but now their hiatus has finally been called to an end with the release of Into The Ether. At just three tracks, the EP is a humble return for the trio, who have been busy raising families and pursuing non-musical careers for the past half-decade, but it’s also a musically confident and assured one.
What’s most notable about their new release on paper, aside from the long wait that preceded it, is the production credit for David Bottrill. The Canadian producer has sat behind the desk on albums for big names such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, Dream Theatre and Robert Fripp. The first two of this list, Tool and the Pumpkins, both work in a similar sonic field to Lunarin, so the enlistment of Bottrill’s experience makes perfect sense - both in theory, and in actuality on these three songs. The production, is crisp, spacious and punchy, in the vein of the aforementioned influences, and while Bottrill doesn’t give any particularly original sonic treatment, it is a big step up in slickness from their previous recorded work. Whether this increased slickness is a good or a bad thing is largely up to their fans, but I think it compliments the nature of these compositions.
These songs are all long, mid-tempo strings of clear and concise rock-metal riffs and changing time signatures. Musically it doesn’t break any new ground but the changes and riffs themselves are well-structured and nice enough. Ho Kah Wye’s multi-tracked distorted guitar takes the lead the whole way, usually doubled by Linda Ong’s bass, resulting in a full yet still bare-bones and basic sound. With no real change in instrumentation, the focus is on the smooth interplay between the three members including Loo Eng Teck on drums, which is engaging enough to carry them for at least these 24 minutes.
Ong’s vocals float on top of the musical backing in an almost celestial way, her understated delivery still commanding a great presence. In a musical setting so often tainted by painful over-singing, it’s nice to hear her use some tasteful restraint even when reaching for those high notes on opener Rage.
All three tracks here are fairly similar in tempo and musical features. Opener Rage is, fittingly, the most punchy and physical, and perhaps the best of the three. Bruises is more atmospheric and grand, with dronier noisier guitar and a more hooky chorus which doesn’t quite appeal to me... while ten-minute closer The Flood is like a combination of the two songs before it.
There’s a really solid continuity across the whole EP... and if you listen the whole way through, it’s easy to miss the dividing lines between the songs and to hear it as one continuous musical piece. This works really well for a short EP, and as a result the whole thing comes across as a well-written success. A full-length album would definitely require some more musical and vocal variation from the trio, but that’s not a major point here. Into The Ether isn’t striking, but it’s well-made, consistent, and very listenable.
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Released: 15 Oct 2018