LUNE – Ghost EP
Released: June 12, 2020
Nathaniel Smith // Vocals
Krys Smith // Guitar
David Freeland // Guitar
Tyler Hendley // Bass
Harrison Mills // Drums
The relatively new Melbourne band LUNE are exciting. A genre title is somewhat hard for me to slap on them, as they don’t quite fit the traditional title of just another metalcore band, they seem to have risen above that. They’re not quite a melodic-hardcore band, and their sonic landscape extends far beyond anything one would consider nu-metalcore. What they are is a very compelling aggregate of the three. This aggregation makes for some very impressive music, that being given an earthly manifestation in their upcoming EP, Ghost.
The EP opens with titular track ‘Ghost’, evidently setting up a theme for the duration of the release. What I earlier claimed about the sonic experience of LUNE proves correct when listening to this track, as the opening guitar chugging is redolent of deathcore’s past, which isn’t all too surprising when you consider that guitarist David Freeland and Krys Smith, brother of vocalist Nathaniel Smith, are the former guitarists of I, Valiance and drummer Harrison Mills was formerly part of Blind Oracle, two of Australia’s more interesting extreme exports. ‘Ghost’ is a great song; it maintains its pace throughout with fantastic guitar work and a vocal display that shows how much range Nathaniel has. The melodic, layered vocal section of “Remember my face, I wanna know that it didn’t go to waste” is a standout. It showcases this atmospheric vibe that so many bands attempt, but fail to execute meaningfully by making such a spectacle of it. Still, here, LUNE makes this short, sweet, and punchy without unnecessary sampling fodder that leads to something unsatisfactory. ‘Ghost’ was chosen as the lead single for a good reason, it displays succinctly what LUNE is about – crisp, chuggy instrumentals, powerful drums and off-the-wall vocals that tell a story with emotion. “Ghost” can be thought of as an actual character within this EP’s story; it continually reminds us to remember its name, and you’ll see why.
Next up is ‘Misery Dialogue’. Off the bat, it’s clear this is a direct continuation of the story introduced in ‘Ghost’. Lyrically, the song is extremely introspective. It references the ‘bad’ side of you that everyone possesses, and the negative monologue you’ll face when in a depressed state. It annotates the notion of losing yourself to your negative thoughts, which is what the Ghost is doing; it’s being consumed by negativity and pushing people away. To me, ‘Misery Dialogue’ is almost a battle story, a battle between yourself and your mind; your sense of self-worth and your minds attempts to degrade that. Lyrics like “Let me in, let me drown you in stagnancy, let me watch you self-destruct” are as if the Ghost’s mind is providing a commentary, like that little devil’s voice on your shoulder urging you to give in to the negativity. Sonically, this is very similar to ‘Ghost’ and sets somewhat of a precedence for the EP, the guitar patterns are reasonably similar, and vocal styles are only slightly extrapolated. What makes this different is the use of sampling to enhance the effects in the middle section of the song, although it rather gets in the way when trying to focus on the vocals, but for a short-lived section, it’s a neat little effect in an otherwise rather same-y song.
Following this is the second single to be released off the EP, ‘Manipulator’ – probably my favourite song from the release. ‘Manipulator’s message is a simple yet critical one; the actions of abusers are not acceptable, that blood relations don’t necessarily correlate with being family, and that they will not go unrecognised and unpunished. ‘Manipulator’ is perhaps the thematically darkest song on this EP, as it obviously deals with some very dark subject matter. It was released around the same time that several other bands in the Australian scene released music with eerily similar subject matter, i.e. Gravemind with ‘Phantom Pain’, Make Them Suffer with ‘Hollowed Heart’ and Northlane with ‘Bloodlines’. This highlights genuine issues in our society, not ones that are to be taken lightly but are still taken rather obtusely, and LUNE tackles this with great gusto. ‘Manipulator’ is very djenty and is a welcome pace change as it takes the fury referred to throughout the first two songs, wields a knife and just goes to town.
The song doesn’t relent in any instance, it’s punishingly heavy throughout. I once read a quote, of which the origin eludes me, that said, “Heavy isn’t just a tuning, it’s a feeling”, and that absolutely rings true here, as LUNE excellently utilise both. ‘Manipulator’ is an ostensible anger fuelled song as much as being sewn with sorrow, as the lyrics detail intense anger towards someone failing to see how their poor life decisions (to put it lightly) affect those around them and how much it hurts being gaslit by them denying the reality of their abuse; “Vomit out the pain, hope it goes away, but you’ll deny that too because you can’t accept the truth”. While also being deeply hurt by that same person’s self-destruction. Nathaniel writes beautifully in this song as he lets out what seems to be years of frustration, as cutting off family for their toxic behaviour is certainly not an easy choice; “Your blood is in my veins, but we’ll never be the fucking same”. This concluding breakdown adds a great sense of finality to the song that can double as a sense of satisfaction for finally confronting an abuser after years of torment, getting out what you want to say and finally having the upper hand.
‘Modern Bones’ comes next. From the outset, this song screams as a dedication to those stuck in an endless cycle of the week-to-week, those merely existing, but not really ‘living’. It heavily references themes of self-realisation; “We are just skeletons living in organic clothes”, that life is finite and so many of waste our lives on playing it safe; “Suppressing yourself just to make ends meet”, but adding in the enforcement that you absolutely should set out to achieve the things you want, irrespective of its difficulty or deviation from the status quo; “Your only motive is the end of the week, instead of seeing every moment as a chance to be alive and free”.
If I’m brutally honest, the lyrics and tone of the song are the best things about this song. The song structure is too similar to the previous three to make it really stand out, especially in comparison to the opener ‘Ghost‘. You can’t really blame a new band for playing it relatively safe on their debut release, but with songwriters such as what LUNE possesses, I would have thought there’d be slightly more divergence on a 5-song EP.
Last, but absolutely not least on Ghost is the closing track, ‘Mirror Image’. Now, one could be forgiven for starting this track and thinking it begins in a similar, however more ethereal way, to the opener. In this song, we revisit in a more direct way the story of the aforementioned ‘character’ of “Ghost”. ‘Mirror Image’ shows perhaps the best utilisation of drummer Harrison Mills, too, as the percussive elements are a huge standout for me, I think this song especially is going to translate incredibly well in a live setting, whenever that may be. ‘Mirror Image’ is perhaps the most ‘unique’ song amongst the EP, combining many of the fresh elements presented singularly in one song or another to create an enjoyable song to listen to, while as a whole not really aberrative from any well-trodden core path.
The song revisits the themes expressed within the whole EP but with the benefit of years of hindsight. ‘Mirror Image’s placement in the tracklist is very much intentional, as it is (pardon the pun) quite a thematic mirror to the opening track. The “Ghost” character seems to have taken a long time to reflect upon the changes in his life; “Now I see a man, I see a mirror image, I see a ghost, a lesson learned from pain” and the pain in Nathaniel’s voice throughout this track is palpable, so much so, one could consider him the embodiment of the “Ghost” character, as if he’s inches away from succumbing to the negativity detailed in previous songs, but he’s just keeping his head above water. The denouement of the EP comes full circle, as we’re once again reminded to “Remember my name”. But it’s different. This time, we’re being shown something much happier, something much more confident. This time, the “Ghost” knows who they are. ‘Mirror Image’ is very much about a theme of acceptance of the burdens one has to bear in life, accepting those burdens voluntarily and persisting in spite of them to make yourself a stronger person.
In sum, I think Ghost is a fantastically written, if not all too original EP. Originality, however, is not the sole indicator of quality, especially in such a heavily saturated genre pool. Put simply, Ghost is injected with dark, djenty guitar work that the writers are known for, with the melodic, melancholic vocals posing a quite interesting spin. What Ghost does do well is convey intense emotion and display LUNE‘s technical proficiency to the world – it shows a rather intransigent approach to the horrors of the world and of your own mind, and how they can wreak havoc when gone unchecked. With how its story progresses, one could be forgiven for thinking the EP would work equally as well as a novella, but I think the chosen medium is far more palpable.
Ultimately, everything in the EP draws back to ‘Ghost’ and ‘Mirror Image’, in that it all references a feeling of fear, i.e. fearing abuse in ‘Manipulator’, fearing failure or stagnancy in ‘Misery Dialogue’ or fearing mediocrity and a lack of meaning in ‘Modern Bones’. If thematically heavy and sonically diverse metalcore-ish music is your thing, I wholeheartedly recommend listening to Ghost. LUNE absolutely has bigger and better things to come, if this EP is anything to go off.
Lune – Ghost EP tracklisting:
2. Misery Dialogue
4. Modern Bones
5. Mirror Image