Kentucky-stationed MOONBOW is the sludge-happy by-product of vocalist Matt "The Beard" Bischoff's (as in the Survivor 26 contestant and BMX mogul) reputed writing project that found him aligned with multi-instrumentalist David McElfresh from LETHAL and Hank 3's 3 and 3 BAR RANCH. Joining Bischoff and McElfresh are AFGHAN WHIGS/HERMANO drummer Steve Earle and VALLEY OF THE SUN bassist Ryan McAllister. While recording their debut album "The End of Time", the newly-formed MOONBOW hit the Kickstarter campaign trail to help finance their endeavor and surpassed their quota.
In that time where Bischoff found himself in the Caramoans and the company of Jeff Probst, the band lured KYUSS/VISTA CHINO singer John Garcia into their camp for a guest spot. Thus we have "The End of Time", a lean 30-minute machine of down-tuned huffing and hefty riffing. Listeners can expect to be treated to a mincing blend of FU MANCHU, CLUTCH, ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY, BLACK SABBATH and if you're listening for it, a nip or two of the Allmans.
Slapped together with sharp production and a professional, albeit frosty, video for the title song, MOONBOW could become an instant hit in the stoner (much less BMX) underground. As David McElfresh plays a pretty mean fiddle for Hank 3, he brings those licks over for a shitkicking intro to "End of Time" before dropping some smoking crunch chords on the heels of a stomping lead count. Immediately, McElfresh establishes himself as a solid guitarist with knuckle-down riffage bolstered by Ryan McAllister's low-slung cat-crawls, Steve Earle's linear skin slinks and Matt Bischoff's bar-wrung baritones.
McElfresh (who is also known to play keys) truly has the goods on guitar. His greasy solos on "End of Time", "Fire Bath" and the heavy-driving "Journey of the Iron Horse" are top notch. His switch from quick-snapped picks to dragged-out chuffs in response to the shifting rhythms of "Iron Horse" is as gnarly as Ryan McAllister's churns on the song's final bars. McElfresh's squelching fills and dusty solo dashed into the lascivious shuffle of "Octavia" are within reach of CLUTCH's Tim Sult, while Matt Bischoff pulls off a handy merge between Neil Fallon and Zakk Wylde on the same track. As the primary arrangements of "Black Widow" are more geared toward traditional heavy metal and power rock, McElfresh's riffs are accordingly tighter and his transitory solo is cleaner.
John Garcia's sweaty verses on "Take it for Granted" present one of the coolest moments on the album, even though he comes off more like Jesse Hughes of EAGLES OF DEATH METAL than himself. Matt Bischoff responds on the choruses by elevating himself into pure rock Fallon territory while the band grinds out a humping groove behind the bipolar vocal tracks.
The raw grit of "The End of Time" leaves room for a few knobs to polish, but the hammered-out dirty plow in the middle of the SOUNDGARDEN-meets-FU MANCHU "Saved" sets up a sparkling solo from David McElfresh. Matt Bischoff's vocal performance here is one of his strongest, thus one can appreciate the dichotomy at work in this band. What's refreshing about MOONBOW is they keep things loose yet they instinctively button down when it becomes most imperative. The bearded one should be happy as sin by his ongoing media and bike sports presence; he now has a band in his pocket with this much glue out the gate and that's what you call living life to the max.