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Mediterranean Cod with Roasted Tomatoes

Oregano, thyme and paprika flavor the cod in this 15-minute, Mediterranean-inspired meal. Olives, capers and roasted cherry tomatoes add color and zest to each bite.

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Moon Tooth - Crux Music Album Reviews

The Long Island prog-metal band bursts with enthusiasm and rabid energy, as if Mastodon's apocalyptic visions were replaced with cosmic wonder.

Moon Tooth draw attention like the big, bold letters of a comic book: Their technical prowess, rabid energy, and pristine-sounding records all work in favor of making your eyes light up, your heart rate accelerate. The Long Island quartet’s sophomore album, Crux, pairs down the hyperactive whimsy of 2016’s self-released Chromaparagon in favor of simpler pleasures. Hooks abound. Lighters are raised. The last decade’s rock heavyweights—from radio titans like Foo Fighters and Incubus to more progressive acts like Tool and the Dillinger Escape Plan—all seem, at various points, like fair comparisons. It’s rock music built from familiar sounds, all drawn together by an ability to swerve suddenly into pyrotechnics.


What separates Moon Tooth from legions of shred-happy colleagues is their emotional urgency and the unexpected ways in which they contort their influences. The lyrics do little to offset the band’s cartoonish ferocity—one of the best choruses culminates in a cry of, “Not today, motherfucker!”—and yet they never sound like they’re just screaming slogans in wild time signatures. They’re always reaching toward the audience with the hopes of pulling you up, an intimacy that’s almost entirely derived from the performance of frontman John Carbone. His soulful, clean singing weaves through the imaginative riffs of guitarist Nick Lee, like if Mastodon’s apocalyptic visions were replaced with pure cosmic wonder.

This style would collapse under the weight of too much seriousness, and Crux tightens Chromaparagon’s scope without sanding away the fun. It’s energetic enough for each song to feel like its own distinct action sequence but concise enough to avoid monotony. The wailing chorus of “Awe at All Angles” takes cues from pop-punk, while “Musketeers” spreads messages of solidarity over a frantic new-wave pulse. In the opening “Trust,” Carbone sings about drifting through life, but his bandmates demand his full presence, lest he miss the half-time breakdown or the saxophone-accompanied finale. If Chromaparagon was the sound of a band showing off all their tricks at once, then Crux radiates with a sleeker and starker energy.
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It’s also a blast. Carbone is destined to become a polarizing metal vocalist, though it’s hard to deny the strange passages he draws through the maze his bandmates lay out for him. Highlights like “Motionless in Sky” and “Omega Days” are deceptively intense compositions and Carbone is able to connect their various parts with the lucidity of a pop songwriter. The dazzling, waltz-time closer “Raise a Light (Epilogue)” is wobbly and off-center, with a momentum like a deranged animal barreling toward you. “I’ll rage my way home,” Carbone sings in its closing refrain. “But I’m not going there alone.” For all Moon Tooth’s left turns and explosive ambition, the biggest thrill is in knowing they’re just getting started.



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