REVIEW: GOOD TIGER – “A Head Full Of Moonlight”
With so much music and so many talented artists blossoming into the limelight recently, it comes as no surprise that supergroups are becoming increasingly popular. Musical collaboration is a beautiful thing with a ton of potential, and if you are a fan of progressive metal, a combination of former members of Tesseract, The Safety Fire, and The Faceless will no doubt spark your interest. Near the end of 2015, such a supergroup – known as Good Tiger – released their debut album, ‘A Head Full Of Moonlight’, and in case you aren’t one of the fans who have been gushing over it for the last couple of months, here is the rundown.
First of all, the lineup requires some elaboration. When many fans think of “djent” giants, Tesseract, they often picture one of the more recent and well-known vocalists; but before the mind blowing range of Ashe O’Hara, and before the return of the always amazing Dan Tompkins, there was Elliot Coleman. Anything he did in the brief time that he was with them, however, doesn’t come close to what he’s doing with Good Tiger. There is much more of a dynamic in his vocals, particularly in the writing of the melodies. The cleans far outweigh the harsher vocals, but when they do appear, they are gritty and fantastic. Due to the style of his voice and the notes he’s hitting (with ease, mind you), Coleman often sounds mildly like a woman, even having a soulful feminine tone at times, most notably in “Aspirations”. But a singer is nothing without their band, especially when you have the skillful guitar playing of Derya Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles behind you, both of whom are known for their work with The Safety Fire. They do a really good job of accentuating the groove of the rhythm section, while providing necessary melodies that tie the vocals in perfectly. Bassist Morgan Sinclair (previously a touring member of Architects) is a great backbone for Good Tiger, but as always, I personally would prefer to hear a lot more bass. Finally, to cap it all off, ex-The Faceless drummer Alex Rüdinger ties the whole outfit together like few others could, with his blend of subtle accents that support rather than overwhelm the other musicians.
A perfect example of how well everyone balances each other out is the opening track off of ‘A Head Full of Moonlight’, entitled “Where Are The Birds”. The staccato picking of the guitar leads into a really tight groove, layered with a funky vocal melody, making this one of the highlights of the album. The following track, “Snake Oil”, is in my opinion the best song overall on the album, having some of the most memorable and catchy melodies and a very decent guitar solo. “Enjoy The Rain” and “I Paint What I See” are also worthy of note, the latter ending with an extremely solid section in 13/4, and some really impactful falsetto on Coleman’s part.
Mellower tracks such as “Latchkey Kids” bring contrast to the table, and create even more of an atmosphere when followed by the chaotic intros of the heavier, intriguing songs, like “All Her Own Teeth”. On the other hand, “Understanding Silence” is a little too much on the soft side, usually causing me to skip past it; however, the Coleman choir that appears within the last minute is quite beautiful. Which brings us to the finale, in the form of “’67 Pontiac Firebird”. This is a strong ending to the album, giving off the pulsating vibes of heavy jazz.
Generally speaking, Good Tiger seem to be really good at creating a powerful and impressive beginning and ending to most of the songs on ‘A Head Full Of Moonlight’. I also particularly like the fact that the total running time of the album is relatively short for a full-length. It allows the listener to truly grasp and retain what’s happening in each and every track, instead of having to pick out a mere handful of parts that stand out on a rather lengthy release. The biggest issue that I have with this album is with the lyrics, but as I don’t find that aspect to be all that important in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t deter me from enjoying Good Tiger’s debut. The overall sound is polished, the instruments are crisp without sounding over-produced, and the vocals stand out as clean and very well-delivered – despite the fact that they took a few listens to grow on me. Like many fans, I look forward to seeing where the band takes their sound from here.