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Scanning the flat universe. - 80%

Diamhea, March 8th, 2018

Lunarsea seriously impressed me way back when I first heard Hundred Light Years, which seems like ages ago - because it was. I worked my way back through their discography, finding Route Code Selector a worthy precursor despite some production imbalances, but reaching as far back as Hydrodynamic Wave, I found some marked discrepancies in Lunarsea's approach. I suppose "growing pains" of some manner are to be expected, but this album actually appeals to me in a partially distinct manner. Production is also stellar, giving Romagnoli's virtuous shredding wide breadth alongside the atmospheric, Dark Tranquillity-esque synths.

This framework is a familial sighting in the melodeath field, and Lunarsea certainly don't break the mold entirely here, although it is certainly stressed at points. One of those examples is definitely "Beside the Driver," a rather catchy anthem-esque tune with a somewhat poppy chorus. It almost sounds like a mess, but it just works. Clean vocals are utilized, as per usual with these Italians, but they are more melodic than on Hundred Light Years. Musmeci's nihilistic gutturals conform well with the clinical picking sequences that litter the album. Lunarsea are an extremely tight unit, making some of the compositionally pedestrian sections more bearable, although hooks generally come fast and plentiful enough to satiate.

Also worth noting is that some of these tracks have persisted since the band's demo days, so tunes like "Evolution Plan.txt" and "Dead End Road, He Walked" feel riffier and make better use of the Skyfire-esque synths. I also really liked those warped, distorted acoustic sections on "Smokers." Lunarsea's level of competence and collective musicianship is their biggest ace in the hole, evident during the sublime instrumental "Onirica Frequencies," which certainly isn't without its moments of technical opulence.

Honestly, Hydrodynamic Wave fits nicely next to the band's other two records. It isn't quite as fast as Hundred Light Years or focused as Route Code Selector, but it has lush atmosphere and tight riffing. Lunarsea have enough nuance and distinction to continually appease my tired ears, so adventurous melodeath fans should check these guys out. They have their moments of typical Italian weirdness, but always deliver what really matters: a sore neck.