Often times when one thing dies, another thing is given the ability to live. An assailant is threatening your life so you end theirs as a means of preservation, an animal kills another animal for the sustenance to carry it through another day, etc. There are even cases where something truly unique and beautiful can grow from an event so tragic as the ending of another life. In this case, the dissolution of promising progressive metal upstarts The Safety Fire allowed two of its members to found and fully focus on Good Tiger, which is a more of an eccentric, playful beast than the former band. Their debut album A Head Full of Moonlight serves not only as an explanation as to why The Safety Fire dissolved, but also as a bold declaration as to why it had to happen.
The music on A Head Full of Moonlight is familiar enough to get you interested, but when it sinks its claws into you is when you begin to realize just how unique these songs are. The distinct guitar sounds of Joaquin and Derya of The Safety Fire allow the material to be immediately set apart from your run of the mill progressive metal band. At the same time, the unique vocals of Elliot Coleman carry the material into another realm entirely. If you’re not paying the utmost attention to a guitar hook, you’re hooked on a vocal melody. It’s a vicious cycle that this record doesn’t mind putting you through more than a handful of times.
Songs like “Aspirations,” “Enjoy the Rain” and “All Her Own Teeth” show the record’s two driving forces at their deadliest. However, in stating that vocals and guitars are the driving force of this album, some would think of that as sending jabs towards Morgan Sinclair’s bass playing or Alex Rüdinger’s drumming prowess. That’s hardly what’s happening though, as they both carry the record along with aplomb. Ultimately, they end up taking a bit of a back seat to the overwhelming (in the best possible way) performances by the guitars and vocals but are still an important part of the core that pulses through the album.
When all is said and done, even while we’re talking about how well every performance on this album is, there is one member who hands down gets the award for MVP of the album. That member is Elliot Coleman. Through years and years of being in different groups, Elliot has honed himself into one of the most distinct voices in modern metal. It’s shocking to think that A Head Full of Moonlight is his first full-length record because his performance is that of a veteran. His croon takes each song to a different place, one where his high-pitched and colorful vocals are the main focus and nothing can touch him. In songs like “I Paint What I See,” “Latchkey Kids” and “Snake Oil,” he demonstrates his expressive style so deftly that it will make your jaw drop.
In being the MVP of the record, he’s also the band’s biggest risk as well. There are plenty of people who will dismiss Coleman’s vocals as too melodramatic for them and declare the record unbearable because of it. However, those who have been waiting for Coleman to be part of a steady project, will greatly outnumber these naysayers and will prove that the risk was well worth it. His voice takes the music to new heights to create a platform that nobody else can reach. For that, he deserves your ears and your applause.
In death, there is life. When The Safety Fire ended, it opened the door for Good Tiger to become more than just a side-project. A Head Full of Moonlight serves as the seed planted in the grave, allowing the unfortunate passing of a band gone too soon to become something that is mighty, tremendous and hopefully here to stay.
Good Tiger’s A Head Full of Moonlight gets…