Early Moods play high-voltage, dynamically unpredictable heavy psychedelia and doom metal. Early Sabbath is the obvious and pervasive influence, but frontman/keyboardist Alberto Alcaraz has his own sound and isn’t trying to ape Ozzy. Their debut full-length “mystery color” vinyl album, one of the best of 2022, is streaming at Bandcamp.
One thing that elevates this album above so many other groups gathered around the glyph in the shadow of Sabbath is the nimbleness of the rhythm section. Another is the relentlessly ominous riffs and big anthems that come thisclose to careening over the edge, but somehow the band hold the songs to the rails.
On the album’s opening track, Return to Salem’s Gate, they shift back and forth from edgy fuzztone chromatics to a smoldering Fender Twin burn, drummer Chris Flores’ machinegunning salvos capping off the big peaks, with an edge-of-the-abyss wah-wah solo from lead guitarist Oscar Hernandez.
The Sabbath influence bubbles to the murky surface in the second cut, Live to Suffer, from the menacing first verse, to the doublespeed interlude with Hernandez’s tantalizingly shivery lead lines.
Alcaraz opens the band’s signature song with distantly drifting unease from his synth, Hernandez levitating from funereal belltones through a series of increasingly agitated variations to a full-bore stomp in tandem with bassist Elix Felciano.
Defy Thy Name starts out gritty and briskly hypnotic: a tensely pounding halfspeed interlude leads to a bone-chilling, acid-flamenco dance of death, the high point of the record. From there they segue up into Memento Mori, a mini-dirge straight out of the first minute of Sabbaths’ first album and then work the gloomy implied melody in Last Rites for all it’s worth. Hernandez could go on at the end for ten times as long as he does and it wouldn’t be boring.
They hit a gallop in Curse the Light, but it’s a restrained one, Hernandez letting his grim, fuzzy notes linger in the toxic air. The band slow down a bit with a skewed take on a classic Arabic mode in Damnation, with a wry reference to an iconic busker tune and a famous Geezer Butler riff.
They close the record with Funeral Macabre, the most phantasmagorical and 60s-inspired track here, from a leering, carnivalesque theme through a long, gonzo, woozy Hernandez solo out. Doom metal purists who appreciate the classics, from Sabbath through Candlemass, St. Vitus and Radio Moscow, will love this record.