Spruce Moose – Pyramid Scheme
Spruce Moose is a Power Metal band that likes to take on weighty topics, in this case, the financially motivated by greed segment of the church. Pyramid Scheme is their second full-length album, following The Moose Is Loose. They use clean and harsh vocals, sometimes going for over-the-top, off-tone wails and screams that embellish the chaos that is religious fervor. Heavy rhythms, big riffs, and wild vocals are what you’ve come to expect from Power Metal, and these guys do not disappoint. Now, let’s take a ride on the wild side.
- Damen Johnson – Vocals
- Mike Bell – Guitars/Extra Vocals
- David Pollock – Bass
- Dylan Mooney – Drums
May 19, 2023
- Pyramid Scheme
- Pay To Pray
- 70,000 Tons Of Money
- Measure Of A Moose
- Endless Forms Most Bureaucratic
- The Battle Of Form
- The Scattering Of Assets
The album opens with the title track, “Pyramid Scheme.” It has some seriously heavy Funk-style grooves before settling into a Power Metal setting with combined harsh and clean vocals. Lyrically, this is a failed attempt to get rich quick with a scam. This will lead the Hucksters to the best tax-free scam going on today, religion. The desire to make trash cans full of cash tax-free will be a theme that runs the rest of the album, so get ready for that. They get caught this time, so they have to refine the scheme. Like any good criminal, they learn from their mistakes.
“Pay To Pray” begins with a Bluesy/Funky guitar riff and keeps that tone going for the first couple of minutes. That will give way to a heavy version of the same riff. The rhythm builds with the guitars and sticks the landing on the swell, matching the tonal shift. We are introduced to the Spruce Moose, the church’s principal deity. You can learn all you want about the Moose as long as you are willing to pay for that privilege.
I could go song by song with the analysis, but the better use of time in this article is to highlight how well these guys create a caricature of society. They hit points from all over society. They make fun of Scientology, the government, bureaucracy, and fundamentalist fanatics while portraying themselves as the victims and the masterminds at the same time. There are a lot of political barbs just in that arena.
The music goes from Funky and Bluesy to Power and Thrash Metal. The vocals have influence from Power and Death Metal. Every instrument gets to shine at different times, a serious Power Metal maneuver if ever there was one. I saw some parallels when listening to Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime earlier this week. The whole “selling skin, selling God, the numbers look the same on their credit cards” vibe also plays through this album. They definitely talk about their beautiful ladies a lot.
There is Helloween style humor all over this record. Spruce Moose has written an album that pokes fun at so many things it’s hard to identify them all. Weird forms, private jets, high-end sports cars, hookers, and super cocaine, these guys are living large and trying hard to die young and leave a pretty corpse. The vocals are truly chaotic, going from growls to spoken word to wavering cries of delight and pain. Some of the timbres are so far off-key that they are trying to do this.
While I would never suggest taking this album seriously, you cannot discount its effect. The tone of the lyrics is light and funny, but there is a lot to unpack when listening. There are layers of sound, excellent skill from all the instruments, and the vocals add texture to the lyrics and the music. Remember, Keeper Of The Seven Keys had some amusing songs, but just like this album, it rocked freaking HARD. Dig into the lyrics, laugh, and listen to all the nuance and skill on display here. This is a very complex disc with much more to offer than you might think on the first listen.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.20