Moonlight Haze is a symphonic power metal band from Italy formed in 2018 releasing their debut album ‘De Rerum Natura’ in 2019. The band came onto my radar in 2020 with the release of their Semplicemente sensational sophomore album ‘Lunaris’ – an album that not only floored me but amazed, astounded, and astonished me too! Okay, I’d heard symphonic metal before so I kinda knew what to expect, but what I didn’t expect was the stunning perfect vocals of the band’s beautiful lead singer Chiara Tricarico. And now the band is back to wow me once again – and all their other fans too of course. Huh, as if they would just release an album for me! I can dream, can’t I… Anyway, back to some form of reality, and the third album from Italian symphonic sensation Moonlight Haze: ‘Animus’, a 2022 release…
…featuring eleven songs of sheer excellence. For forty-two fabulous minutes, the band doesn’t put a foot wrong, each and every song a belter. Opening with ‘The Nothing’ and its epic chant style intro, the band hit the ground running, oozing energy and oomph in abundance. ‘The Nothing’ is up-tempo and energetic, featuring a mesmerizing vocal performance from Chiara. Two years ago I was held captive by her stunning voice, and I am happy to be its prisoner once more. So take me away (handcuffs optional)! And ‘It’s Insane’ takes me away, to somewhere high up in the sky, far above the Earth, to a place that’s out of this world! For that is where Moonlight Haze is taking you – ‘It’s Insane’ a melodic power metal march of mid-tempo fare with a mighty majestic edge. What a delightful opening double – perfect in every sense of the word.
To say I’m taken aback by this band would be one of the biggest understatements in recorded history. The band continues to stun me with their incredibly addictive hooks and melodies, not letting go of my pleasure centers, enthralling me for every single second of the album – all two thousand five hundred and thirty-one of them! Bringing a heavier feel to the album, ‘Kintsugi’ launches with a furious flurry, adopting the classic heavy metal power vibe as it stretches its legs and gallops on. And with the energy levels going through the fucking roof, Moonlight Haze is definitely bringing the happy-inducing feel to you; the listener. ‘Cause if you ain’t happy and smiling from ear to ear after such an invigorating romp, you better go see a Doctor as I think you might be dead!
But for those of us not dead, with a smile on our faces wider than a Cheshire cat’s grin, the band power on with the album’s title song ‘Animus’, and one helluva big surprise – more on that in a moment. ‘Animus’ (the song) – a Latin word that has different meanings, such as vital force, conscience, soul, mind, and courage – is another highly majestic march of superb symphonic power metal. The band is performing at their very best, firing on all cylinders, cooking on gas, or whatever your preferred phrase is for an exceptionally high level of performance. And that big surprise! Well, at one minute and eighteen seconds (precisely) there is a growled vocal line for just seven seconds – and if it’s Chiara, wow fucking WOW! What a new style to add to her already incredible vocal range.
And crikey! The band picks up the pace and hurtle forth with the blistering ‘The Thief And The Moon’, by far and away the fastest song heard so far. Heads will begin to nod faster, for ‘The Thief And The Moon’ provides the best opportunity of the album so far to really get those neck muscles moving. And the soaring vocals too, are right up there with the griffon vulture and bar-headed goose – two of the highest soaring birds on record. Stepping into the anthemic style of metal, Moonlight Haze delivers ‘Midnight Haze’ at a thumping mid-tempo pace, mixing a more traditional metal vocal style with the band’s root symphonic one. The variety of the album so far has been wider than one would expect from a symphonic metal band, but that’s what makes great bands – a willingness to push boundaries, to experiment, and to take your sound to other levels. Kudos to Moonlight Haze and their confidence to do so.
A heavier hitting style of metal descends on ‘Animus’ (the album) with ‘Tonight’ kicking the hardest of all the songs on offer so far. The band’s symphonic roots are not lost though, Chiara’s vocals remain soaring, and the melodic power metal element of the album is as striking now as it has always been. And once more, the pace of the album increases, this time with ‘Never Say Never’. A lively and highly energetic gallop, those warmed-up neck muscles are gonna be flexed further by the band’s unrelenting fast-paced, and fiery delivery. The recent upturn in the album’s pace and “more metal” feel, is continued with the mosh pit friendly ‘We’ll Be Free’. For the mosh, pits everywhere will now be a mass of vigorously nodding heads and fists punching the air. This album is just getting better and better.
And even better still! For ‘A Ritual Of Fire’ is a breathtaking barnstormer of electrifying speed and precision. Land speed records are gonna fall as Moonlight Haze blaze through ‘A Ritual Of Fire’ at a phenomenal pace, scorching the Earth as it hurtles by. Even those fans with a preference for the speed and thrash styles of metal will be on cloud nine with this one – headbanging furiously to a superb song. And to the album’s final hurrah, ‘Horror & Thunder’ – an explosive burst of electrifying energy. And who is that second vocalist? The addition of a second “power metal styled” vocalist is in striking contrast to Chiara’s soaring vocals and adds yet another exciting dimension to the band’s sound. Maybe it’s not a special guest singer, maybe it’s a member of the band. But whoever it is, and whatever possessed the band to add a second singer – it worked! And has ended the album very much on a high. An album that surely is the lead contender for Album Of The Year.
Overall, an energetic and quiet breath taking journey of superb symphonic power metal, highly addictive and overly infectious.
The Thief And The Moon
Never Say Never
We’ll Be Free
A Ritual Of Fire
Horror & Thunder
Moonlight Haze: Facebook
Release Year: 2022
Label: Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Iron Mathew for Frenzy Fire, and Metal-Roos.