A Head Full Of Moonlight
6th November 2016 – Self-released
01. GT 1 Where Are The Birds
02. Snake Oil
03. Enjoy The Rain
04. Paint What You See
06. Latchkey Kids
07. All Her Own Teeth
08. Understanding Silence
09. ’67 Pontiac Firebird
It’s hard to deny there’s a certain amount of glamour associated with supergroups – bands formed from various musical already-knowns – no matter the relative level or popularity of their parent acts. Whilst there are certainly more notorious and headline-generating, this summer’s announcement of prog five-piece Good Tiger was met with interest – especially in tech metal circles.
With ex-members of TesseracT, The Faceless and The Safety Fire among their number, the transatlantic quintet have spent half a year writing behind the scenes, and pleasingly only announced themselves in order to crowdfund production of debut full-length A Head Full Of Moonlight, rather than before even finishing its first song; a vanity project this ain’t. They achieved their goal in almost no time at all, which if nothing else is indicative of tech fans’ appetites for new music from these particular individuals.
With the demise of British tech darlings The Safety Fire, the band’s twin riff factory of Joaquin Ardiles and Derya Nagle were at a loose end – but whilst their signature, spidery sound is present throughout A Head Full Of Moonlight, Good Tiger avoid being TSF Mark II, as was the danger. This is largely thanks other three members, who make their stamp felt strongly enough to avoid comparisons being too strong – yet there’s enough of the pair’s bright, sanguine riffs so beloved of fans of their former band.
So Good Tiger is no exercise in plagiarism, but there are some familiar touching points to draw people in. The unaccompanied sigh that opens “Latchkey Kids” is highly reminiscent of a similar intro to Jeff Buckley‘s famous “Hallelujah” cover, which is apt; vocalist Elliot Coleman has been likened to the tragic cult singer songwriter in the past, particularly when he was doing the rounds as TesseracT’s frontman. Similarly, “I Paint What I See” features delicately evocative, wordless croons, highlighting Coleman’s tasteful vocal control. Unlike Buckley however, he also has a fantastic roar, used sparingly for impact.
Indeed, Good Tiger are perhaps at their most enjoyable when they really turn up the energy. All the spacey noodling and witchy vocal inflection is nice, but cuts like vibrant head-nodder “All Her Own Teeth“, lead single “Snake Oil” and closer “’67 Pontiac Firebird” – probably the most Safety Fire-ish Jo and Dez get – are altogether more satisfying. They’re also prime examples of why this style of music is so popular with prog heads, despite being stylistically closer to post-hardcore or straight up rock: the mix of aggression, fretboard histrionics, juicy riffing and ever-appropriate drumming – it is Alex Rüdinger behind the kit after all, so no surprises there – draw in strands of more grandiose prog epics without exploring indulgent tangents for twenty unnecessary minutes. In fact, the whole album clocks in at a mere thirty-five minutes (or an average commute), making the entire experience that extra bit more enjoyable for its conciseness.
There are a few moments where interest wanes however; “Enjoy The Rain” and “I Paint What I See” in particular feature a couple of passages that don’t quite hit home in the same way others do, with a couple of the riffs and vocal sections not quite marrying perfectly – but it’s a small gripe. A Head Full Of Moonlight really comes into its own in the second half, with compelling tracks rolling one after the other particularly from “Latchkey Kids” onwards.
The quieter moments – mostly unaccompanied guitar and vocal – sound butter-smooth and are infused with real emotion. Penultimate track “Understanding Silence” delivers this aspect beautifully, quashing any qualms regarding shaky moments earlier in the record. Whatever your preference and whether or not this clicks with you – and it has taken a while for it to with me – the actual execution and sonic quality is magnificent, and the work of five very talented young men. A naughty cub this isn’t; Good Tiger have the paws and claws to cut it with the best of them, and A Head Full Of Moonlight promises great things to come.