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Moanaa - "Passage" (CD)

Moanaa - "Passage" CD cover image

"Passage" track listing:

1. [...]
2. The Process Part I
3. The Process Part II
4. Crystal
5. Terra Mater
6. The Shift
7. Grim Encounter

Reviewed by on December 7, 2016

"One of the great pleasures of metal reviewing is opening the inbox to discover a band you'd never heard of before and have the music utterly blow you away. That was the case with Polish post-metal outfit Moanaa..."

One of the great pleasures of metal reviewing is opening the inbox to discover a band you'd never heard of before and have the music utterly blow you away. That was the case with Polish post-metal outfit Moanaa and the band's sophomore album “Passage,” which is a bit like the name would imply: a long journey through something, rather than a destination to be reached.

“Passage” doesn't offer quick satisfaction, but instead makes you work for the experience as these songs build and grow over nine to 12 minutes in length, with only a small handful of shorter tracks. What makes Moanna stand out from the crowd is both in how the building and falling sounds are constructed, and in the usage of vocals. Plenty of post-metal groups of this style go entirely instrumental (and there have been horde of meandering non-vocal albums like this released in 2016), but the addition of both harsh growls and emotive clean singing adds in the perfect extra dimension.

Although an incredibly introspective album on the whole, there's some serious heaviness on display as well, and the two opposing forces are meshed with aplomb. The (relatively) shorter six minute track “Crystal” in particular is an interesting offering as its basically a heavier, more concise version of the previous two songs and builds up towards ever greater heights of sound.

“Tera Mater” is another excellent section of “Passage,” with a highly atmospheric lone distorted guitar line coming out of the surrounding silence. The track is packed with excellent transitions, and the only head scratcher here is why the completely different acoustic ending wasn't its own separate interlude song. The “Passage” finally comes to a close with 12 minute ender “Grim Encounter,” which almost goes a funeral doom route (but with a post-metal twist) carrying forward a slow dirge of screams and building notes.

The press releases for “Passage” described the album as “coming in waves, mounting, slowly unfolding” and that absolutely nailed it. There's no quick pay off or rapid fire instrumentation, but if you dig a slower and more introspective take on metal, Moanna's second full-length fits the bill perfectly.

Highs: Great blend of post-metal meandering, legitimate heaviness, and harsh vocals

Lows: The long dream like journey isn't going to please fans of faster or more extreme metal, and some of the overly long songs could have been chopped up

Bottom line: This slow moving ride through the "Passage" is well worth taking!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)