–Galactic Cowboys: Long Way Back to the Moon (Music Theories Recordings, 2017)

–GALACTIC COWBOYS: Long Way Back to the Moon (Music Theories Recordings, 2017)

No honest hard rock or metal fan could ever claim the 1990s were a barrel of laughs. From the dismal malaise of the grunge/alternative rock scene that ruled the musical landscape, to metal’s depressingly underground, bordering-on-invisibility status – the U.S. metal scene wasn’t exactly throwing victory parties during the Clinton years. But one merry little band of Mars Ranchers who played one mean “attempted clarinet” apparently didn’t get the downer memo.

Yes, Houston’s inimitable Galactic Cowboys actually thrived on being contrarian – that is unique, optimistic, and, gasp…fun – during metal’s darkest age. The stylistically schizophrenic quartet shamelessly combined thrash, glam, groove metal, bluesy jams, Mariachi(!), and superb vocal harmonies into one enigmatic platter. What kind of band were the Galactic Cowboys, you ask? They were the kind of band that would wreck the most hardcore thrashers’ necks before lulling them into a plate of serene spaghetti with their Beatles-esque harmonies. Their lyrics celebrated everything from individuality and crop circles to serial killers, romantic destiny, and long-lost high-school crushes. In short, they were the Galactic Cowboys, dude.

First off, it is high time to stop referring to this band in the past tense. After 17 years away from their proverbial Ranch on Mars, the Galactic Cowboys are back in the (also proverbial) saddle with Long Way Back to the Moon (released November 2017). GC’s original lineup – consisting of lead vocalist Ben Huggins, drummer Alan Doss, bassist Monty Colvin, and guitarist Dane Sonnier; needless to reiterate, every member also sings – have created an exciting comeback record for 21st Century metalheads.

The vast majority of Long Way Back to the Moon’s 11 regular tracks should please fans of their classic first three albums. While nothing here is as brilliantly schizoid as “I’m Not Amused,” or as sublime and epic as “Someone for Everyone” or “Where Are You Now?,” the core GC elements of thrashing, grooving, and harmonizing still dominate the space waves.

As for highlights, one need not look further than hyper-harmonious opening number, “In the Clouds.” One of GC’s oldest songs, dating back to 1989, “In the Clouds” lulls the listener into a heavy hypnosis before bashing him/her with a patented GC thrash riff-arama. Driving single “Internal Masquerade” features chiming lead-guitar harmonics and a crunchy main riff, which segues into The GC Beatles harmonizing the tumultuous likes of “Internal masquerade/eternal disarray/it’s eating up my heart today.”

Colvin’s thick bass groove and Sonnier’s chiming arpeggios anchor the brilliantly poppy “Next Joke.” This time around, the sardonic chorus scoffs at the American dream’s unrealistic promises: “You can go very far when you reach for the stars/ you can have anything you want (Next joke!).” A post-apocalyptic romance tale, “Zombies” is simultaneously one of Long Way’s… most brutal and catchy tracks. The quasi-ballad “Amisarewas,” though, is the album’s crème de la crème; this moody, melodious, and harmonious dream of a tune represents the absolute best of GC’s unique song craftsmanship.

“Drama” finds GC again successfully exploring their Def Leppard-esque pop-metal side. “Agenda,” by contrast, is a fairly standard but effective metallic cruncher. As stated earlier, Long Way… does lack the extreme emotional ebbs and flows of the best of their previous work; unfortunately, the second half of the album tends to lag a bit in terms of intensity and songwriting quality. That said, the closing pseudo-balladry of the title track concludes the album in a satisfactorily balanced manner. Besides, who could complain about the two zany and snarky bonus tracks?

Yes, plenty of darkness abounds in 2018. That won’t stop the Galactic Cowboys from throwing the wildest, quirkiest heavy-rockingest party. Welcome back, boys. — Jonathan Kollnot

–Tracklisting: 1.) In the Clouds 2.) Internal Masquerade 3.) Blood in My Eyes 4.) Next Joke 5.) Zombies 6.) Drama 7.) Amisarewas 8.) Hate Me 9.) Losing Ourselves 10.) Agenda 11.) Long Way Back to the Moon – (Bonus Tracks) 12.) Believing the Hype 13.) Say Goodbye to Utopia

~ by jonnyboyrocker on February 20, 2018.

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