Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Vinyl Review: "Long Way Back To The Moon" by Galactic Cowboys

Long Way Back To The Moon
Go to any corner of the internet and you'll see about how Nirvana ruined the world for metalheads.

Please note: This statement is even more erroneous than piracy killed the music industry.

Each of these two things were contributing factors to where the world headed, but simply contributing factors. Neither was the sole reason something happened.

The early 90's was a divergent time for metal. What most people back in those freewheeling pre-grunge days thought of as metal was Poison, Bon Jovi, etc.

Well, it wasn't long before the wider world learned the name Metallica. Then it was Pantera. Slayer, Megadeth, and even Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, and Morbid Angel got people talking.

Galactic Cowboys
The early 90's was a divergent time for heavy metal. The  mainstream metal was pretty much kicked to the curb, then some formerly underground bands took up the mantle.

At this time, thrash metal was at its own crossroads and metalheads were drawn to Vulgar Display of Power. It was heavy, and melodic.

Now this is where the flotsam and jetsam of metal gets interesting to me. It goes back to Immolation and Master. None of the bands being discussed today are anything that could remotely be considered obscure....and I had heard of them. Galactic Cowboys is the same way.

In the before time...aka High School...Metal was played on KSHE95 at 11pm to 1am on Tuesday Nights, Monday Night Metal. It was played on Thursdays from 6pm to 12am on WLCA, The Mosh. Then there was this little obscure show called Headbanger's Ball.

Aside from what my friends had heard of, that was it...and most of my friends also got their information from those three sources. Back then, there weren't blogs, heavy metal magazines, or any other way to get new bands.

That makes it very lovely that Galactic Cowboys have returned from the afterlife and walk the earth once more. To make it plain, their earlier work, I know nothing of it. Long Way Back From The Moon is all that's crossed into my earholes. So, there'll be no discussion of improvement, devolvement, or anything else. Just this record.

It's definitely a post card from another time and place. The mid-80's Iron Maiden and Judas Priest influence is evident. No one could play melodic and progressive metal like those two bands. Those gods of metal were always a great place to start.

It's almost a little thrashy, but only just. There aren't any passages with full on thunder gallop riffs. But palm mutes are on the table here. Oh yeah, that  metal know what I mean. The one that every new band uses as the base to the sound?

The 5150's nowhere to be found here. That is the biggest reason why it sounds like something from another time and place. At their heaviest, there's that Slayer/Anthrax sort of crunch. It's fuzzier than it is crunchy, but it's also not just your standard Marshall on ten.

Looking back, the Galactic Cowboys are a throwback band to a metal scene that, honestly, only almost existed. Fellow Texans, Pantera, are really the only other band that sounds remotely like them.

However, it's clear that Pantera, and we're not talking about the glammy days, was a band that was never really sure what they were, and quickly grew out of this kind of music, and that's why the scene almost existed. When Pantera blew up, they were some other thing.

Then you have Galactic Cowboys holding the torch.

So, to call them Traditional Heavy Metal isn't really right, so Progressive Heavy Metal is probably a bit more accurate. They're able to tap into parts of themselves and without being bound by having to check off convention boxes.

That's why they're so hard to really distill down to what they do. They're metal, that's for sure, but they're never really the same kind of metal from one song to the next. They're mellow enough (sometimes) to earn airplay on rock radio, but they get metal enough to never look out of place at an Ozzfest show.

That's precisely what makes this album so fun. It's not uncomfortable, because that's a really cool thing that a lot of bands simply cannot do, but it's never in a groove and always unexpected.

Let's talk vinyl on the platter.

One thing that should be mentioned about listening to vinyl rather than digital (of any kind) music is that the mastering is different. There's no loudness war on vinyl. Maybe there is on their CD or the MP3, but I'm listening to a pair of 180g slabs of vinyl that's being scraped repeatedly by a needle that's producing metal.

So even without an analog chain, there's an improvement, in my opinion, to the sound of the music. I bring this up, because I don't know anything about the recording of this album. Reema recorded her album in a fully analog studio and it sounded great.

Maybe this was done on Pro-Tools, who knows. But, it's crystal clear. We could discuss the sound of the bass guitar at length, not the playing, but the actual tonal qualities. (It's a series of great funky basslines with just a touch of dirt on it. Were anybody daring me to guess, I'd wonder if there was a Tube OD pedal pushing it just a touch.)

These discs blow out of the speakers in perfect clarity. It's a truly wonderful thing. It's frankly, why I dig records so much.

Back to the discs, yeah, 180g slabs. My copies have no warping. There was a touch of a seam split, but on the top, during shipping. It's a full gatefold cover housing both discs.

There IS a download code. Truly and honestly, the record is an XLP featuring 2 bonus tracks. For more goodness about the packaging, check out the video below.

Release: 11/17/17
Genre: Progressive Heavy Metal
Label: Mascot Label Group

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