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Moros Eros I Saw the Devil Last Night and Now The Sun Shines Bright Review

by Jason Marder

At the very mention of something like a "concept album", many people are inclined to simply avert their ears, especially given 2006's knack for churning out an especially sub-par batch. We saw the overindulgence of My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade and were witness to the vain hometown pretentiousness that engulfed The Killers' Sam's Town. The true "runt" of the litter though, and that is said with the utmost affection, comes from one of the most unrecognized new acts to burst onto the music scene in 2006: Moros Eros. The band, a quintet fresh out of Georgia, had and still has their work cut out for them, so to speak. In the ever-burgeoning indie/alternative genre, a newcomer truly needs a defining factor to ever dream of succeeding. Moros Eros, however, certainly has it, seamlessly weaving elements of spacey experimental, balls-out punk rock, and pop hooks with an addiction potential that rivals nicotine.

The band is an anomaly on Victory Records, a label much more in the vein of emo/screamo/post-hardcore acts such as scene heroes Hawthorne Heights and Bayside, and the brutal Atreyu. Moros Eros definitely brings a distinctness and vitality to the label with their debut I Saw the Devil Last Night and Now The Sun Shines Bright, an innovative record to say the least. After being labeled by countless publications, including Alternative Press, as something of an illegitimate child of bands like At the Drive-In and Fugazi, Moros Eros have blow-up potential. And while the band does exhibit elements of the psych-punk that both of the aforementioned members of the rock aristocracy are best known for, they have a sound that is very much their own. Front man singer/guitarist Zach Tipton's derelict yet primal roars hearken to mewithoutYou's Anthony Weiss while drummer Bobby Theberge makes even Dave Grohl look limp-wristed with a pounding quality similar to Say Anything's Coby Linder. The other two members (Chris Firebaugh on keys and DJ Schulz on bass) add textural elements that sometimes run perpendicular to the music, though that is not at all a bad thing.

The album's opener and also the single, "Today is the Day", sets the tone for the concept aspect of the equation with references to god and Satan and their respective homes. With a jaunty guitar riff that melds effortlessly with the meandering bass line, haunting keys, and monster beat; the track is a leadoff highlight. But don't fear my potential listeners, many more are on the way, though not immediately. The second track, "When I Wake" is skippable; a faux-ballad that diminishes the band's finer aspects. "Short of the Shore", a noticeably more upbeat and energetic tune with one of the finest climaxes, kicks the album back into gear at track three. The dual title tracks that come next, "I Saw the Devil Last Night" and "Now the Sun Shines Bright", drag like "When I Wake". Fortunately, though, they mark the turning point, as they sever the true excitement of the second half of the ten-track album from the first half. "Insane and Speechless" is one of the catchier tunes, with a driving chorus and atmospheric keys in the verse. Along those lines, "Make Me An Angel" has a similar ambiance, an infectious beat and vocals sopped in angst and creativity. Finally, the closer "Satan Has a Heart of Gold", is subtly anthemic, though the vocals themselves are generally uncreative ("Momma says Satan's got a heart of gold, Papa says Jesus got a heart of stone, Everyone says I got a heart of stone, But Satan says I've got a heart of gold").

When it's all said and done, I Saw the Devil Last Night and Now The Sun Shines Bright marks a truly memorable debut for Moros Eros, a truly memorable band. With contagious rhythms and noteworthy musicianship, Tipton and Co. show a certain promise that is uncharacteristic of many of the scene's baby boomers. Though some of the kinks still need to be worked out, the follow-up should certainly be interesting, if this first album is any indication.

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