“Don’t compare them to The Safety Fire. Don’t compare them to any of their prior projects…” I thought after repeated listens. But it was too late. It was unavoidable for the time being.
Hard rockers Good Tiger are a collection of talented musicians that have lost their places in previous and defunct bands. The collaboration, having formed earlier this year and relying on an Indiegogo campaign to release their first album, consists of ex-TesseracT vocalist Elliot Coleman, ex-The Safety Fire guitarists Derya Nagle and Joaquine Ardiles, ex-The Faceless drummer Alex Rudinger, and bassist Morgan Sinclair. A successful fundraiser that ended after just days should only prove the popularity of this band and the desire of fans to hear new music. Residing somewhere between rock and metal, even given the moniker of “progressive” (which I will touch on later), Good Tiger has released their debut album “A Head Full Of Moonlight” last Friday, a collection of nine songs full of spunk, energy, and potential. But how does it fare against what each member has released in the past?
Personally, I’ve only heard material from three of the five total members of Good Tiger, so much of bias revolves around singer Coleman, and guitarists Nagle and Ardiles. It’s funny; hearing “A Head Full Of Moonlight” for the first time, I swore that The Safety Fire singer Sean McWeeney had joined Nagle and Ardiles in this new project, only to find out it was another familiar vocalist instead. Having similar vocal ranges and deliveries, it was hard for me to not picture McWeeney singing this album until I re-listened to Coleman’s contribution to TesseracT on their EP “Perspective.” Listening to that album gave me a new perspective on this album, and helped me to break away from this figurative box I forced this album into.
From the first song “Where Are The Birds,” the listener will understand the balance of the heaviness of rock with the edginess of metal. With his near-falsetto theatrical vocals, Coleman delivers brilliantly sung lyrics while Nagle and Ardiles introduce that familiar Safety Fire sound without beating a dead horse. I now understand this is an entirely different band, but I love the subtle nods to previous material, especially the minor chords and fast paced muted notes of “Enjoy The Rain.” It’s this song that shows one of the best collective performances of the band. Even single “Snake Oil” shines, being perhaps the hardest track on the album. There are plenty of moments to move to the music in this 36 minute album, but those moments aren’t necessarily the greatest on the album.
Some of my favorite songs off “A Head Full Of Moonlight” happen to be some of Good Tiger’s softer material, including “Aspirations,” “Latchkey Kids,” and “Understanding Silence.” Proving that they don’t necessarily need to be metal 100% of the time, Good Tiger succeeds in slowing things down and whipping out the lighters. These moments allow for the band to perform memorable and passionate orchestrations without forcing the listener to ride the song like a crowd surfer. “Aspirations” allows for Coleman’s vocals to shine in its bridge section, sounding somewhere between Portugal. The Man and Foxy Shazam. Meanwhile, “Latchkey Kids” relies on interesting harmonics to dominate the guitar rhythms throughout, something I haven’t heard in metal music in general recently. Being the track that refers to the album’s title, I enjoyed the airy vocal approach Coleman uses, reminding me of vocalist Craig Owens of Chiodos. Finally, “Understanding Silence” is another softer track using clean guitars and minimal rhythm sections, but is performed beautifully by vocalist Coleman in the acapella ending to the song. I think it’s safe to say Coleman’s dramatic vocals stand out amongst the rest, and is my favorite aspect of this album.
Deemed “progressive” by some other writers, I had a hard time agreeing with that term as the album resonated in my ears. Then again, I had the same problem with The Safety Fire, so maybe it’s just me. Sure, each song contains some dramatic time signature changes, but with no song lasting over five minutes, there is not enough space in each track for the band to explore a sound that closely parallels progressive music. Although brilliantly performed, my only critique of this album is the slapping on of the label when it doesn’t relate closely enough. Far be it from me to say this album isn’t “progressive”; I am no way claiming to be an expert.
Overall, Good Tiger’s “A Head Full Of Moonlight” is a great listen, and will definitely give the band much deserved attention. With musical subtleties ranging all over the music map, Good Tiger is able to create an album that stands out from each member’s prior works, but uses enough past influences for listeners to feel that head full of moonlight. Please support this band by checking out their Facebook and Twitter pages for band updates.
Preview and purchase “A Head Full Of Moonlight” by Good Tiger by clicking the album cover above!