Bristol blackened doom purveyors, Moon Reaper, released their debut EP last month and should be making their way on to your playlist once you’ve finished reading this article. Led by chief songwriter, Morgan Cradick, the English metal juggernauts cannot be pinned down to one genre. All you can say is that their sonic barrage of crushing distortion and agonising vocals is nasty enough to warrant a noise protection order. Moon Reaper are heavier than a Paul Gascoigne drinking session with Chris Evans and Danny Baker in Soho.
To our knowledge, no band has attempted to incorporate a djent guitar style into the blackened doom metal aesthetic. Cradick agrees that it makes for a unique approach, but this is one of many micro genres pulsating through the band’s debut EP. “The writing style is something that was not bound by genre. The multiple styles incorporated was intentional, but the genres themselves were not nailed down in any way.” It’s easy to see why the band will appeal to the Meshuggah worshippers when you learn of their guitar tunings. Cradick down-tunes his instrument to drop-G on a seven-string Custom Schecter Demon.
Moon Reaper’s frontman is not just an imaginative guitarist but also a powerful vocalist, possessing a set of harsh pipes that would make Whitechapel’s Phil Bozeman sit up and take notice. He cites Konan (Malevolence), Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Alex Teyen (Black Tongue), and Brady and Dan from Conjurer as his influences in this department. Listen to his performance on ‘Godeater’, and you’ll wonder where he finds the demonic strength to unleash such a transgressive voice.
Like all artists, Moon Reaper’s main challenge during the Covid-19 lockdown was figuring out how to continue their writing and recording process. “Writing was something that came naturally through the isolative emotion of the COVID 19 lockdowns and my natural curiosity of the wonders above the human realm,” says Cradick. “Recording, however, was much more difficult. It was done in segments, each instrument for each track recorded individually, whenever the government deemed it safe for us to go outside. This hindered the procession of recording and generally made it tricky to stay on schedule.”
The end result is one of the best EPs of 2021, and one that should gain Moon Reaper a higher profile in the UK metal underground. We ask Cradick about his plans to shop their next release to record labels, but he remains open-minded about the usefulness of signing to a label. “We feel capable enough to release it independently, however, we’re open to offers from any label to expedite our reach and progression,” says the frontman.
We asked Morgan Cradick to share his top seven influences on the making of the Moon Reaper EP to find out more about the creative process and the inspiration for his music. Here are his choices…
7. Black Holes
Morgan Cradick (Vocals/Guitar): Although not a form of media in any way, the concept of the black hole and the information available to us inspired many of my writing themes. The physicality of being able to obliterate anything, transcending space, time and living for eternities are all themes explored in Moon Reaper, as well as the experience of interacting with them.
6. Opeth – Watershed (2008)
Morgan: The masterful creation of the peak of this band provided the contrast of sounds, quiet and atmospheric clean passages, contradicting morose and heavy sections, all with comprehensive melodic construction.
5. Black Tongue – Nadir (2018)
Morgan: Nutty breakdowns galore, riffs lower than the depths of hell and slower than a Tool album release, the sonicscape of this album impressed the notion of massively dropped tuning groovy yet punchy riffs. Also, the drums… Oh f*ck the drums. You can feel them in your spine.
4. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage (2012)
Morgan: The power from Joe Duplantier’s vocal distortion and the melodic yet brutal content of Gojira’s riffs implanted in me the idea of pounding sections with fast double kicks mixed with immersive pitched harsh vocals.
3. Malevolence – Self Supremacy (2017)
Morgan: Ridiculous riffs and insane hype for an angry eighteen-year-old Morgan! I took on board the energy created from this album, from the groove laden callouts to the destructive beatdowns (particularly at live shows).
2. Conjurer – Mire (2018)
Morgan: This release really brought out my special interest in a desolate sounding album with a mix of genres, especially leaning toward the intense grandiose sound of post black metal and the sonic weight of the sludge/doom riffs. The production and song-writing techniques immediately blew me away.
1. John D. Boswell (aka Melodysheep) – Timelapse of the Future: A Journey to the End of Time (2019)
Morgan: My introduction to the absolute crushing depths of deep space entities and what awaits at the end of the universe. This [film] inspired the lyrical themes of Moon Reaper.
*** Moon Reaper self-released their Moon Reaper EP on 30 July 2021. You can read the original SBR review here.