Expectations rarely have been as high for a debut record as for De Rerum Natura, Italy’s Moonlight Haze‘s first album after forming in 2018. The cause of that are the names of those involved with members and ex-members of high-class Italian metal bands such as Temperance, Elvenking and Sound Storm. The most exciting inclusion among Moonlight Haze‘s ranks is probably Chiara Tricarico who left Temperance in 2017 and recorded a bunch of great melodic metal records with the band thanks to her voice suitable for international competition.
With the combos mentioned the musical direction Moonlight Haze takes is far from surprising. Italian power metal they were, and Italian power metal they will be. Granted, grandiose orchestration and Chiara’s at times operatic voice could easily put the band with the symphonic metal Nightwish clones, but the focus lies in melodic, speedy power metal going back to the roots put down by the likes of Labyrinth; harmonizing vocals, choirs, arpeggios and song-oriented rhythm guitars. Nevertheless Moonlight Haze do not rely entirely on a somewhat stale reproduction of 20 year old ideas, instead they marry the classic Italian power metal influences with an extremely crisp and modern sound comparable to Amaranthe as heard on the second track “Ad Astra”. What a chorus, what a melody, and the thundering double kicks – a dream for power metal fans.
Tracks like “To The Moon And Back” or “Time” showcase the modern nature of Moonlight Haze‘s songwriting furthermore without delving too deep into simplified song structures; on the contrary, it’s as if the songwriting members were huge fans of more progressive Italian bands like the aforementioned Labyrinth, Secret Sphere or Vision Divine, all of whom were always prone to some more imaginative structures. “Dark Corners Of Myself”, a track of nine minutes even employs a surprising jazzy part in its interlude, which is of course soon broken up by Luca Turilli arpeggio style solos.
Due to Simone Mularoni’s masterful sound production expertise (also heard on Turilli / Lione Rhapsody‘s new record) De Rerum Natura offers some of the cleanest sound possible without losing its feeling. The vocals, rhythm guitars and drums are warm, but distinctive and snappy and the soloing stands out even though the lightning fast notes could get lost in a less focused production. In the end, De Rerum Natura is another great record from Italy, a country that has been killing it recently with modern power metal releases from bands like Frozen Crown or Temperance who managed to translate the countries roots in melodic metal to a sound suitable for a new time. With this record, Moonlight Haze supply one of the strongest contenders for the genre’s best album in this year.