They Watch Us from the Moon – Cosmic Chronicles, Act I: The Ascension (Review)

They Watch Us from the Moon - Cosmic Chronicles, Act I The AscensionThey Watch Us from the Moon are a doom/stoner metal band from the US and this is their debut album.

Cosmic Chronicles, Act I: The Ascension provides us with a feast of progressive stoner doom. Across 45 minutes – five meaty songs – They Watch Us from the Moon impress with their charismatic take on a notoriously bland style. Spoiler alert: bland, this is not.

The music is doomy and heavy, yet filled with sugary pop melodies and vocals that taste damn good and are surprisingly satiating. The music has a Southern rock influence, but also a grunge one. Elements of heavy psych and progressive rock are apparent, as is the underpinning honesty of an Orange Goblin-esque brand of heavy metal. The band have an interesting mix of styles, but it all comes together seamlessly under the progressive stoner doom umbrella.

Imagine the heavy doom groove of someone like Monolord and mix it with the sort of 3-dimensional vocals you might find on a Devin Townsend or Alice in Chains record, and you’ll have a rough idea of where this music exists. Alternatively; Queen mixed with Electric Wizard mixed with Pink Floyd? Why not, let’s go with that.

They Watch Us from the Moon’s psychedelic and progressive workouts are highly compelling. The songs are structured so that they take you on a sci-fi journey through textured fuzz and gritty groove, while taking flight with rich atmospheric enhancements and that incredibly moreish singing. Yes, let’s talk about this singing shall we, as it sort of steals the limelight. The vocals are bright, emotive, and full of colour. They soar with power and considerable presence. The vocalists are impressive and striking; the music that backs them is certainly worthy in its own right, but make no mistake, these singers are the stars of the show.

One of the, (many), things I like about this album though is that underneath these moreish, infectious vocals, lies music that has more depth and nuance than might initially be apparent. As you get to know the songs you start to look beyond the vocals, beyond even the mammoth riffs, to find little bits of subtle detail that really take you into the fabric of the music. This could manifest in a number of ways, from samples, (non-obtrusive), to layered melodies, to atmospheric sounds, and more besides. And of course, the vocals aren’t omnipresent, and when the music itself gets time to breathe and expand, the band’s progressive proclivities become even more apparent. The extended intro to Creeper AD is a great example of this.

Cosmic Chronicles, Act I: The Ascension has come out of nowhere and blown me away. This really is the sort of record that you need to hear if you’re a fan of the styles mentioned above. More power to They Watch Us from the Moon, and let’s hope this release gives them the praise and exposure that they deserve.

Essential listening.


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