Moon Unit – Differences in Language and Lifestyle Review

I’ve only been around these parts (in an official, non-N00b capacity) for about five months. In that short time, if I’ve developed anything that could be considered a “niche,” it would be happily and naively reviewing the weirder side of AMG promo pit putrescence. It started with the annoyingly avant-garde stylings of an anonymous French musical collective. It continued with a cinematic rock psychosis from a deranged duo who set out to upset metal fans. And today, the cycle continues with the debut album from Croatian progressive metal group Moon Unit. Despite featuring no members of the extended Zappa clan (the false advertising still stings), the title Differences in Language and Lifestyle alongside an image of a T-rex sounded like the kind of weirdo prog rock tomfoolery I couldn’t pass up. So armed with my trusty snorkel, I took another dive into the deep end of the promo pool; the murky spot where Steel and other senior writers are too wise to venture. Luckily for you, wisdom isn’t a trait I’m burdened with!

Moon Unit traffic in a tongue-in-cheek brand of progressive metal that’s heavily influenced by groups like Faith No More, with a dose of Spock’s Beard and an undercurrent of Saturday Morning Apocalypse’s wackiness. On paper, at least to this humble reviewer, that sounds like quite the conglomeration; one with the potential to produce a fun, over-the-top but ultimately rewarding prog metal album. And I think that holds true – for about the first two songs. Both “Velocirapture” and “Motorized Frog Squad” met my expectations handily, dishing out some nostalgic video game samples, inspired musicianship, catchy choruses, and everything else you’d expect from a prog metal band who write songs with those kinds of titles. If the rest of Differences in Language and Lifestyle had proceeded in this fashion, I’d be a far happier Felagund and there’d be a higher score resting at the bottom of this mountain of text.

But that isn’t quite the case. After the first two songs, Moon Unit take things in an unexpected direction; a decidedly Durstian direction. From the third track to the album’s closer, the nu metal influences creep up, settle in, and find a cozy new home in Differences in Language and Lifestyle. And just like that, yet another Croatian prog metal band is claimed by that most dastardly of sub-genres. “Ramming Speed” introduces a volatile mix of Fred Durst-inspired raps and Gerard Way-esque vocals. Follow up “Anatomy Park” is heavy on the Faith No More vibes and ballad “Ensign 4 Life” sounds like a lead single from a nameless 90s alt rock band. From “Secret Squad” on through “Eel Shepard” though, the album permanently transitions to a mix of Limp Bizkit-tinged nu metal, 2000s emo, and straight up hip-hop, with a few remaining proggy elements. Clocking in at a little over 47 minutes across 11 tracks, Moon Unit have succeeded in crafting an extended early aughts bait-and-switch.

The saving grace here is that for all the issues with Differences in Language and Lifestyle, the music still remains largely engaging. All six members (and the 8 additional performers on various tracks) keep things interesting and catchy. You may find yourself wincing at some of the vocal deliveries and wishing they’d picked a different set of genres to unexpectedly swerve into, but credit where credit is due: Moon Unit produced a musically diverse album that, while far from perfect (and sometimes downright irritating) swings for the fences. Is it enough to save this Frankenstein of an LP? Heavens no. But even misplaced effort is still effort.

In his recent Ravendust review, Doom_et_al noted that the album was “unevenly paced and tonally inconsistent, yet many of the riffs and ideas are undoubtedly entertaining. I think Ravendust is still figuring out exactly what kind of music he wants to make.” This conclusion stuck with me because that’s exactly how I felt coming away from Differences in Language and Lifestyle. The album is all over the place, delivering enjoyably wacky prog right before delving into never-ending nu territory. And while the album as a whole is generally entertaining, it feels as if Moon Unit, much like Ravendust, don’t quite know what kind of band they want to be. Based on the first two tracks alone, I know for a fact I’ll spin whatever this Croatian sextet deliver next. Let’s just hope they cease pulling inspiration from an era known more for its backwards red Yankees caps than its musical prowess.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: PRT Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 27th, 2021

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