Moving Mountains - Waves
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Moving Mountains is a Westchester, NY-based alternative/post-rock outfit that has built quite a following since the release of Pneuma, their debut record, in 2007. Vocalist Gregory Dunn and drummer Nicholas Pizzolato, the bands’ two founding members, melded atmospheric elements reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky with Brand New-esque emo rock in heart-tugging anthems that typically ranged between five to eight minutes long. Their 2008 EP, Foreword, featured much of the same and quickly cemented Moving Mountains as one of the up and coming acts in the alternative rock scene. However, despite the success of their first two releases, the band expressed an interest in crafting shorter songs with more a post-hardcore tinge, similar to recent efforts by Underoath and Thursday. Expectations were high for a sophomore effort and Waves, released on May 10th by Triple Crown Records, is a logical progression of the band’s sound that recalls some of the best moments on Pneuma and Foreword while delivering brevity and consistency that was absent in previous efforts.
“My Life Is Like A Chase Dream (And I’m Still Having Chase Dreams)” opens the album in bombastic fashion, supplementing a tense guitar riff with screamed vocals (a first in the Moving Mountains catalog) that sound eerily similar to Dustin Kensrue of Thrice. Lead single “Where Two Bodies Lie” quickly follows and serves as a perfect summation of Moving Mountains’ evolved sound with its driving guitar licks, atmospheric crescendo, and relatively short four-minute duration. “Alleviate”, the record’s stand out track, opens with Pizzolato’s energetic drumming and Dunn’s new found bark before exploding into an enveloping chorus that recalls the chanting, layered vocals of an Anberlin song. Dunn emotes “Turn around and look me in the eyes and swear to me/You’ll never be a dream to me” in what comes across as a plea to prevent a friend from taking their life, or perhaps a lover from leaving.
Waves also contains a slower, more solemn side in tracks such as “Once Rendering”, a poignant ballad that recognizes the loss of a loved one and ones innocence as Dunn yearns “With every summers end you lose a dearest friend to the wind/And I cannot remember the voice that sang inside her/I’ll try my best to stay 14 and tucked away.” Coping with tragedy and the loss of a loved one comes across a consistent theme on Waves, particularly on songs such as “The Cascade” and “Parts in Different Places,” as Dunn keeps the lyrics ambiguous and relatable enough to cause the listener to wonder whether he’s referring to an untimely death, a failed romantic endeavor, or a falling out between friends. The album closer, appropriately titled “Full Circle,” utilizes a swelling orchestra to complement Dunn’s reflective delivery as he continuously repeats “So don’t let me ride along these waves/Don’t let me” before the song closes with a two minute instrumental outro that harkens to the band’s earlier work.
Waves is a very solid album, yet it will have some detractors, especially among long time Moving Mountains fans that appreciated the free form post-rock leanings of Pneuma and Foreword. They might argue that Waves is less creative and more mainstream than the bands’ previous work, however repeated listens reveal that this effort is the logical step for a band that wants to explore their songwriting prowess and craft new sounds. What Waves lacks in knee-buckling epics and swooning soundscapes it makes up for in maturity and consistency. Only time will tell how Waves stands up to Moving Mountains’ first couple releases; however, presently it's one of the best albums of 2011 and a must-listen for anyone who enjoys bands like Thursday, The Appleseed Cast, and Thrice.
I think this is a wonderful album. It seems that too many people were either wanting Pneuma Part II or just had their expectations so high that no matter how good Waves is, there is no way they could like it.