Are Moonlight just another goth/prog-metal band fronted by a female vocalist? It's quite a trend, these days, with groups like The Gathering, Nightwish and Within Temptation sitting high atop the roost of this subgenre. Moonlight have at least one major thing going for them: they are not a new band: Candra is their seventh release. Signed to [Polish label] Metal Mind Productions (MMP) since 1996—this group's been busy. They've also been the warmup act for Pendragon and Mercyful Fate, and various metal fests.
Candra opens with an overdriven rhythm whose pattern should be as familiar as twlve-bar blues; Maja Konarska's voice—think Anneke—is with us in no time, joined by the band's red-carpet-rollout sonic assault. Thankfully, "Ronaa" doesn't resemble typical power-metal: it is slower, sludgier, groovy, with plenty of bottom end. It is a short track, and "Luna II" follows with a flavor much more delicate, herein revealing that Maja is no one-trick pony when it comes to vocals. None of the instrumentalists—a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer—seem to fall into the trap of overplaying (yet, fingers are crossed). This is quite a beautiful track, a hybrid of Queensryche and The Gathering. Daniel Potasz's synths complement, rather than lead—which is contrary to the fact that Potasz pens all of the song lyrics, save one. The downtempo "Meren-Re" is a measured dose of sensuous vox, dreamy synth, and clean arpeggiated guitar. "Body Dialogue" finally begins an upward swing: tension builds carefully over the first two minutes, the tempo increasing very, very gradually, until the mood explodes two minutes in—briefly—with power chords appearing for the first time since the first track. Another verse replicates the opening verse, and we finally get a chorus led by Maja's harmonized vocals and slow, thick chords pounding out the sonic foundation. The song ends with a feedback pattern from Andrzej Kutys's guitar—so far, the album's course is anything but typical. Many bands hammer out power chords and drown the mix with a barrage of double-bass drumming; instead of relying on speed delivery, Moonlight focus on bona fide songwriting. Let's see how the rest turns out:
"To See Yourself"…an a capella number?? Not quite, there are a few piano notes sprinkled in, but for the most part, it is. Potasz finally steps up to the plate: synth-FX and samples control "Asuu," drones & deep bass underscoring Maja's processed vocal for roughly four minutes before Kutys joins in, followed by drummer Maciej Kazmierski & bassist Pawel Gotlas. Diverse in scope and rich in texture, and tracking over the thirteen-minute mark, this is clearly the best song on the album. "Luna"
and "Goodnight" close Candra in style with grace, the former driven mainly by electronics and minimalistic drumming, while the latter brings in a violinist, cellist and violist to enhance the mood.
To return to the opening question: are Moonlight just another goth/prog-metal band fronted by a female vocalist? Answer: NO! Bask in the Moonlight.