nick lee

Rig Rundown - Moon Tooth's Nick Lee

The "aggressive progressive" guitarist chases "peanut-butter tone" with a pair of Vigiers, some fine-tuned drives, drifting delays, and ping-ponging pitch shifters.

Guitarist Nick Lee handles the instrument like a Porsche 911 hugs the road. The German sports car is as equally deft at carving through the Big Sur coastline as it is accelerating out of corners and showing its top-end, straightaway velocity. Similarly, in just two Moon Tooth albums (2016's Chromaparagon and 2019's Crux), Lee has flexed the same versatility. In a single song (much like the 911 rips through a lap of the Monaco Grand Prix), he'll nimbly navigate a clean, precise, fingerpicked melody reminiscent of Chet Atkins before dropping the hammer and flying down the fretboard like Pantera's Dimebag Darrell or Mastodon's Brent Hinds.

Read MoreShow less
“For me, playing music is a very therapeutic, cathartic thing,” says Lee. “I’m always trying to force some evil out onto the guitar, so the riffs I write tend to be very physical and busy as a byproduct of that.”
Photo by Sean Ageman

The prog-moshing Cannibal Corpse acolyte reveals how Mastodon’s Brent Hinds “changed the game” by getting him into Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke.

Unbridled turbulence. Dexterous metal riffing. Soulful vocals over layers of melodies and shifting rhythms. Moon Tooth’s unique beast of a sound is forged from seemingly disparate elements, and the quartet unleashes it with the kind of intensity and surgical accuracy typically reserved for extreme metal bands.

Based in Long Island, New York, Moon Tooth is steeped in the essential fearlessness at the heart of prog-rock, and their debut LP, Chromaparagon, feels like an epic journey through countless sonic realms. But not once over the course of the album’s 12 tracks do the dramatic stylistic shifts seem like a distracting party trick. Instead, they simply underscore Moon Tooth’s single mission: to play music it describes as “aggressive progressive.” While the band’s genre hopping is certainly a part of Chromaparagon’s allure, perhaps the most impressive thing about the album is just how cohesively these various sonic worlds fit together.

Read MoreShow less