French stoner/groove rockers Moozoonsii have a simple gimmick, and it’s one that works fairly well. They’re sort of fuzz metal’s equivalent to what God is an Astronaut is for post-rock. They take a style that’s generally very drawn out and based on either hypnotic repetition or lengthy buildups that release in cathartic climaxes, and instead cut out all of the fluff and cut straight to the good part. Moozoonsii is very lean, clocking in at roughly 24 minutes with only one song breaking the four-minute mark, and that’s a boon to the album’s enjoyability because if it ran any longer, it would probably start to get stale.
The comparison to God is an Astronaut isn’t necessarily facetious, but I did initially pass up some much better comparisons in the hook simply because they’re a much bigger band. The bands Moozoonsii actually reminds me of most are Black Cobra and Black Tusk, two similarly named bands who play with a very similar style of music, that being that sort of nebulous “nu-sludge” that got big in the wake of Mastodon’s rise to popularity, conforming to a similar ethos of cutting out the buildups and just riffing every single second of every single record. Moozoonsii is like if you took Feather and Stone or Set the Dial and replaced the sludge with Pantera style 90s groove and a pinch of kaleidoscopic psychedelia. It’s punchy and aggressive, but it keeps itself locked in a comfortable mid-pace that keeps it from being truly dangerous.
The main thing holding the record back is simply the style itself because while I obviously enjoy it, it does kind of undercut its own strengths. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason all my favorite High on Fire songs are their nasty thrash/doom hybrids that go straight for the throat like “Razor Hoof” and “Turk,” but without those hypnotic buildups and mood-setting down-passages, the heavy parts lose a bit of their impact. The consistent mid-pace means that there aren’t a whole lot of dynamics here apart from a few wild explosions of intensity in “Void Punch” and “Solar Flare” and the very slight slowdown before the climax of “Earthquake,” and it showcases exactly how to make these riffs hit all the harder. I wish they would’ve switched up the tempo a bit more because this winds up sounding like a collection of unconnected riffs that sounded cool without much of a greater vision behind it. It sounds like a bunch of wrestling themes or generic metal riffs thrown together by an in-house band for an advertising company. Seriously, imagine some goofy commercial for… I dunno, Mastercard or something, where Danny Devito plays something that clearly doesn’t match his stature like a badass biker or something. He gives his line and does his smirk and hops on his hog, right when he peels out onto the dusty highway, that riff at 1:28 of “Houdini” would start playing. I can envision it so perfectly.
So yeah, Moozoonsii doesn’t do a whole lot to truly stand out, but they do what they do very well. It’s drenched in fuzz and induces headbanging and foot-tapping with little effort. They tend to rely a bit too much on the riff structure of low chugs punctuated with banging chords on the higher strings, and the songs are pretty samey, all told, but I don’t regret giving this a few spins. Hopefully, someday somebody figures out how to make this style of heavy, groovy stoner metal with none of the cliche lengthy stoner parts work, because it’s a great idea, but Moozoonsii nestles in right alongside the other guys doing it without really breaking out in any real way. Maybe they’ll nail it next time.
Moozoonsii was released independently on September 12, 2019, and can be purchased from the band’s Bandcamp page.