Review ·

Since the 1970s, the intellectual wankery of prog-rock has never been able to meld with the gritty punk-rock aesthetic. Even today, the idea of "prog-rock" is typically relegated to the niche of pseudo-mainstream bands such as the Mars Volta that relish in high production values and outrageous compositions. But Gospel's debut full-length, The Moon is a Dead World, has merged these styles seamlessly. Despite that the band includes alumni from seminal nineties screamo outfits including I Am the Resurrection, Helen of Troy, and Knives and Green-water, its heart is more in prog. The band even cites early Genesis as an influence.

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As soon as the record takes off with "Congratulations You've Hit Bottom," however, it becomes very clear that the four guys in Gospel know exactly what they're doing. Combining hard-hitting drums with guitars that know how to explore the limits while remaining heavy, The Moon Is a Dead World wins on all counts. The band is progressive in its musical prose, but without question Gospel has the passion and aggression to keep up with Level Plane's lineage of legends.

The brilliance never fades. "Yr Electric Surge is Sweet" only takes a minute before it breaks into a swirling jam laced with feedback and guitar soloing. "A Golden Dawn," the record's most epic track, includes enough dynamic changes to keep me interested and still maintains an obscene amount of intensity.

With impeccable production thanks to Converge's Kurt Ballou and unrestrained musicianship, The Moon Is a Dead World recalls the coarser side of prog and immaculately places it within the realm of energetic post-hardcore. Featuring eight explorative tracks in just less than forty minutes, The Moon is a Dead World tastefully plunges through emotional and intellectual depths without overstaying its welcome.

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Gospel Web site (includes audio samples)

Level Plane Records Web site

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