Lunar: The Illusionist: Out NOW On Saibot Records!

Lunar: The Illusionist: Out NOW On Saibot Records!

About The Album/Band

Sometimes something comes along that you just have to write about. This is one of those occasions. Due to a period of not being well I didn’t get to all my emails so missed a few albums to check out for reviewing.

This was one of those. I just got a reminder about it now, and even though it is out (I try to have album reviews out before release date if possible), this album is simply so bloody impressive I felt I had to write about it.

The band are based around Alex Bosson who was one of the founders of the group and is drummer and percussionist, Balmore Lemus on guitars, Ryan Price on bass and Chandler Mogel on lead vocals. 3 of these guys were on the first album Theogony back in 2017, and all 4 played on the last album Eidolon in 2019. Now that is the main cast so to speak. The album (like previous releases) has many guests coming from bands such as Shining (Norway), ObscuraMors Principium EstPaladinCaligula’s Horse and Thank You Scientist.

There are also plenty of instruments not normally found on rock albums (or even prog ones) like saxophone, clarinet, violin and viola. There is also a mix of vocals with Chandler doing most of them (and by god he can alter it up) along with someone to do growls (Brian Lewis). The album is a concept about (as you might be able to guess) an illusionist who is questioning his life’s work. After all the years of practice, was it really worth it? This leads to songs containing various emotions both musically and vocally. The album has 9 songs and is just under 60 minutes in length.

Extra Textures

The album has 2 instrumentals, the first being the opening piece “Prestidigitation” which is a word that takes from French/Italian and Latin meaning “quick/nimble fingers” (along with “manual dexterity”) which blends with the theme of not only the album but the track itself as the band show plenty of dexterity in their musicianship.

Halfway through it takes a turn and becomes more mysterious with the clarinet work of Gleb Kanasevich adding a cinematic feel. There is a moment or two of more angry-sounding music, showing the differing moods of the lead character. The second track is the title song itself which is the longest piece here at over 10 minutes. This song features saxophone by Patrick Corona and additional guitar by Andy Gillion. The first verse is him introducing himself, revealing supposedly who he is to the audience. During the track he starts revealing a side that isn’t pleasant, his anger coming through along with quite a bit of self pity. The band manage to cleverly match musical patterns and instrumentation to the lyrics and story. There are a number of changes in style to illustrate the moods even allowing a jazz part to give extra texture.

From Heavy To Mellow

Showtime” kind of heads straight into “Worship The Sun” which seems to me like they are 2 parts to one bit of the story. The first is more metal, big riffs, hard-hitting drums whilst the latter has an Eastern vibe, all mystical and magical.  Also in “Showtime” you get the sense of frustration of a man unhappy with his job and the pressures to perform all the time, even speaking about “numbing himself” in a “Wall” like way, whereas in “Worship” he is in a more reflective mood, questioning his life choices and the way people idolise or look up to him. He realises what he does is all show, there is no real substance, it is all “parlor tricks“, so they might as well “worship the sun“.

In “Turn Off The World” the band use the 2 vocal technique to great effect with the moments of anger being growled and the despair being sung clean. On the whole, this is quite mellow but does have some more dramatic moments. The chorus is strong on this and the piece has an added guitar solo by Sam Vallen.

Be Careful With Those Chainsaws

Disassembled” is quite electronic with keys and synths with both the flute and saxophone work of Jorgen Munkeby adding so much to the song. You can easily hear how much thought has gone into the music as the extra instruments are added at just the right moments where they give an extra dimension to important moments in the story arc.

The sax really captures the frame of mind of the illusionist. The wonderfully titled “Juggling Chainsaws” is according to the band themselves their most technical and progressive ever. That suits the piece again. The idea of trying to keep everything in the air whilst feeling the loss of control is matched in words and music. The opening words set the scene “Frantic, amidst the panic” and it gets crazier. At one point he sings”slice me apart, divvy me up, you can’t get enough, all I want is out“. The music always matches the words and the use of harsh vocals for some moments is just right.

Plenty Of Mystery

The second instrumental “For My Next Trick” is mellow, a moment’s reprieve from the panic and anger as no doubt he contemplates what is next. This leads into the final song “Now You See Me” which of course isn’t necessarily true. Will he reveal his true nature, or will he disappear either in front of the audience in the theatre or from the public’s eyes altogether?

The music on this of a classical nature with both the use of violin and viola by Ben Karas along with some lilting piano at points. There is one section where it becomes heavy with a few growls, each time the line is interspersed with questions or other lines of clean. So which side will win? They don’t (in my view) make it clear if he accomplishes his trick and indeed what the trick was exactly, which is fine as life is sometimes open-ended and with it being about a magician it leaves mystery with the observer/listener.

Great Credit All Round

As I said at the start, when I heard this album I was immediately grabbed by it. The story works nicely, it is very character based and features plenty of emotions which as a listener I certainly could relate to. The music is terrific with all the players putting in excellent performances and the instrumentation used in a clever way to match all that is going on with the lead character.

There are moments of heavy prog as well as metal, but melody runs through the heart of it. The fact that some of the people in the band have never met or even been in the same room together is remarkable as it sounds like everyone was on the same hymn sheet and it doesn’t sound pieced together. That is a great credit to the writing, arranging as well as all the musicians doing their parts to the benefit of the whole piece. An absolutely delightful as well as enjoyable album.

The album is out NOW!

Purchase Album HERE

Official Bandcamp  //  Official Facebook

Check out my other reviews here. Tom.