Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
I first started listening to Closure in Moscow a little more than a year ago, having stumbled upon them through recommendations on Reddit. Upon first listen, I did what I think anyone does when they hear a new band: they compare them to bands they’re already familiar with. I compared them to bands like Tides of Man and Circa Survive, but the band they seem to channel the most is none other than The Mars Volta. Everyone seems to make the connection, given Christopher de Cinque’s voice and the band’s sometimes atypical song structures, many times achieving an avant-garde-esque sound. However, the band’s sound has deep roots in the Post-Hardcore genre, complete with higher register vocals, pleasing harmonies, catchy choruses, technical-oriented guitar leads, and surprising bridges that tend to catch you off guard.
The band’s beautiful fusion of Post-Hardcore and Progressive music isn’t the first time it’s been done, but they definitely do it in a way that makes them highly accessible and likable, and this is likely why so many have found such a liking to them. This is important, in my opinion, because not everyone can channel a band like The Mars Volta (one who, as you may know, isn’t universally loved by everyone) so heavily and yet have such a diverse audience.
That’s twice now that I’ve mentioned The Mars Volta in this article (thrice if you count that), and there’s a reason for that. When I first listened to ‘Pink Lemonade’ (the band’s latest album after 5 years of absence) all the way through, I remember feeling this joyous feeling of satisfaction, one that had come from listening to an album that was just so creative, original, and for a lack of a term that really does the feeling justice, awesome. I don’t remember being that satisfied with an album upon first listen since I heard ‘Bedlam In Goliath’ (The Mars Volta’s 2008 studio album) for the first time. I hate to continue to make the dreadful comparison, and I’ll stop there, hopefully.
‘Pink Lemonade’ is a thrill ride from beginning to end. It feels like it has everything that a good Progressive album needs: it’s got mind-shattering guitar leads and solos, earth-shaking drum rhythms, lyrics that make no sense at first, wacky song titles, a little bit of Funk, a little bit of Blues, a little bit of Jazz Fusion, time signatures that aren’t common time, and an overall tone of overwhelmingly solid songwriting and performing.
Part of the reason why this album kicks as much as it does, is that it was postponed for what felt like decades, with fans not receiving a definite release date until last March. After waiting this long, if the album sucked, it would just suck that much more. My praise of this album isn’t likely to be shared by all, though, as many fans weren’t too thrilled with this new direction that they’ve decided to take. When “The Church of the Technochrist”, the album’s lead single, was unveiled last November, people were taken aback by the undeniably different sounds coming from them. Mainly, from what it seemed at the time, the band had seemed to have dropped their Post-Hardcore undertones and had gone full avant-garde. Some complained that they missed the band they fell in love with on ‘First Temple’, and others were all for letting the band mature and play what they wanna play (guess which group I was in).
Without spoiling the album too much, I’d like to share some of what I felt were the highlights. “The Fool”, which is the intro to the album, is an excellent one to such a sporadic album. It begins as many intros do, with background noises leading into some sort of instrumentation (in this case, an organ) when out of nowhere the song decides to punch you in the face with a solid driving rhythm to show you what the song is really like. The song’s ending vocal chant nicely sets up for the beginning guitar melody of the eponymously titled “Pink Lemonade”, a song that comes in many shapes and forms as it goes along, but never fails to pack a punch. The conversation between a man and a woman discussing pink lemonade and how it’s “not too sweet, not too sour”, at the beginning and ending of the song perfectly fits the mood of both, and really ties it together after the rather complex middle portion of the song.
The female vocalist singing a sultry number as a transition between “Pink Lemonade” and “Neoprene Byzantine” kind of takes you away from what you just heard and completely catches you off guard, and then does so again when it changes styles to lead into the beginning of Neoprene. “Neoprene Byzantine” feels very ‘Bedlam in Goliath’ at times, with its starting power metal-esque wail and driving feel throughout, though there are times when it follows a sort of funk style as well.
Skipping ahead to “That Brahmatron Song”, you hear yet another song that can potentially catch you off guard, starting off with a pretty guitar melody accompanied by chords of the same tone. The surprise comes when it becomes a Bluesy Hard Rock song. Its chorus is a powerful one, as it chants lyrics about a “brahmatron song”, “not a God’s kind of music” (not too sure what this could mean). This song is mostly interesting because it seems to come in two parts, each part divided definitively by an eerie and haunting noise-driven interlude. The second part is much more aggressive and feels like an Alice in Chains song that is being locked up, and is screaming at you from imprisonment.
“Mauerbauertraurigkeit’s” ending builds seamlessly into the next track, as the listener begins to hear the rings of a church bell, the fourth of which precedes the lyrics to the album’s lead single, “The Church of the Technochrist”. The album version of the single is a slightly modified version of the one found in the music video the band released in November. All I can say about this song is that no matter how badass the rest of the album may have been up to this point, once you hear this song, it’s like you instantly realize that it all lead up to this point, like it’s a climax of sorts. Christopher’s commanding line “Get down on the floor, put your hands up for our Lord” almost demands that you do as he says as he talks about the Technochrist’s gospel of “lithium and silicon”. The song grabs onto your attention and strangles it as long as it is playing, especially when he goes into an almost seizure-like state of preaching “ya got to have faith-a! ya got to have faith-a!”
Finally, “Happy Days”, the last song that Christopher sings on the album, has its own way of bringing you to your knees. It’s another Bluesy-feeling Hard Rock song, that really closes out the album nicely, with its multiple guitar solos, loud chorus, heavy breakdown section, final feel-good chant, and raw closing riff. The album is ended in absolution by a kind of Chiptune-esque song sung in Japanese by a presumably Japanese woman. It’s a strange ending, for sure, but I think it is such a cool way to end an album, mainly because it is just so random and entertaining.
My conclusive opinion of this album is that it has ultimately surpassed all expectations and is in fact better than ‘First Temple’ and ‘The Penance and the Patience’ combined. I’m even somewhat disappointed because I’m not positive that I’m going to hear an album this good for a long while. But all in all, this album is worth a listen for both fans of their earlier work and people who are fans of Progressive Rock in general, most notably fans of The Mars Volta.