Company: Century Media
Reviewer: Raising Iron
Lacking identity to a degree, yet dynamic
Upon first listen to Luna Mortis' debut (formerly known as The Ottoman Empire, who incidentally had one full-length release as well), The Absence, the prevailing impression was to write them off as a Lacuna Coil clone or a pseudo-emo-core band, but after several repeated listens, there are certainly some strong songs to be found throughout, as well as lead guitars aplenty, and a good amount of depth to the songwriting. Oddly enough, Century Media found it necessary to put a "comparative advertising sticker" on the wrapper noting Opeth and At The Gates fans should/would dig this. It's odd as there are little similarities to those outfits.
Regardless, it is a bit tough to classify their music, there are several verses containing growled vocals interpolated amongst the clean vocals of singer Mary Zimmer. She does sound a bit like Cristina Scabbia, and her range here resides in the area of tenor/soprano. When the riffs get going with the growls, there is an air of traditional melodic death metal, and maybe that's where the At The Gates comparison comes in. Musically speaking, they cover a lot of varied ground, hence progressive metal could be an appropriate characterization, but the songs here are distinctly focused, with no long instrumental meanderings. The real joy here is Brian Koenig's lead guitar playing, emphasizing melody and timely appearances. Highlights would have to be "Never Give In", with its catchy chorus and frequent dipping into the more aggressive riffing to be found on the album, and "Forever More", which recalls melodic European power metal the likes of Sonata Arctica, Conception, or mid-era Stratovarius.
One concern could be the somewhat overall generic quality of the entire affair, the band sounding a lot like others, therefore lacking identity to a degree. Yet, this certainly is a dynamic effort, well thought out, and succinct. A worthy debut under their current moniker, this young band certainly has a lot of potential.