Kentucky hard rockers MOONBOW follow up their impressive 2013 debut album, "The End of Time", with an equally striking, acoustically driven album, "Volto Del Demone". The tracks here were recorded over the past couple of years while multi-instrumentalist David McElfresh saddled up with cowpunk legend Hank 3. As it turns out, Hank Williams, III pays McElfresh a return favor on "Volto Del Demone" with guest vocals, drums, bass, guitars, keys and effects on "Face of the Demon".
Davey Mac fields guitars, fiddle, mandolin, steel guitar and backing vocals, while his primary collaborative partner Matt "The Beard" Bischoff (who, you might remember, appeared as a contestant on "Survivor: Caramoan") returns as lead vocalist. SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN/HUMAN COMETH/SIMPLE AGGRESSION vocalist Eric Johns provides cameos on "Devils Floor" and "Mission 35".
The stripped-down acoustic swing on "Devils Floor" gives David McElfresh a ton of space to layer his LYNYRD SKYNYRD and BLACK SABBATH riffs and breezy fiddles over a stomping tempo laid down by Steve Earle. "Devils Floor" still rocks hard within this dialed-down projection as McElfresh plugs in a juicy electric-guitar solo that squelches through the song's pump. "Take Me Home" thereafter builds itself to a mid-tempo throb with moody bass plugs by Ryan McAllister, and there's a dragged-down, trippy ALICE IN CHAINS feel to the cut with a wafting country bake to it.
Suffice it to say, the title cut is McElfresh's show for much of the ride. A swampy mandolin and fiddle-flying intro sets up a drawling country sway that is enriched by a gorgeous vocal layering, which counters the song's grumpy melody. It sounds pissy yet wonderfully tuneful, and the production of McElfresh's swarming instruments is masterful. Ditto for the gusty tilts of "The Wait", which grows more and more coated the longer it lofts.
"Memories Ahead" and "One Way to Die" are the most metal tracks in feel on this album, likewise carrying airs of ALICE IN CHAINS with their glum slogs. "Memories Ahead" ignites from David McElfresh's emotive electric-guitar burst, while he pulls long, weepy fiddle reveries within "One Way to Die". On the flipside, the appositely light and rock-driven "Mission 35" gives "Volto Del Demone" a pleasing kick.
On "Face of the Demon", Hank 3 supplements David McElfesh's reprised mandolin and fiddle drones in a twisted sort of remix, adding his own squelchy and dusty imprints. What was once stark becomes an encompassing orgy of instrumentation. Country coldwave for a futuristic sci-fi romp set in a bayou.
Davey Mac is building a tremendous reputation as a metal, rock and country performer, and his acumen is proven by watching him in each of Hank 3's four successive and stylistically different live sets. McElfresh can twang, gleam, peal, pluck, shred and whammy chord with anyone in the music business. "Volto Del Demone" proves he and MOONBOW are the real fucking deal.