Secrets Of The Moon
posted on 2/2007 By:
Black metal. What better way for a modern warrior of the world to unwind after being out in the freezing wind? There were apprehensions--black metal for this listener is usually hit or miss--depthful and moody or generic and tired. Beauteous blast beast or beer belly buffoonery. The opening feedback glitches and warm bass tones chilled then thawed my skin and though not familiar with the German band, I knew it was going to be an engaging journey through an arena of music with long established laurels, and firmly established creative forces.
Rising from the sinister and layered "Nowhere 11.18" like Freddy Krueger claws-first through your mattress comes a sound job spewed from Purgatory: cymbals cold and sharp; bass drums a subsonic punch; and guitars sporting a detuned fuzzy edge that'd be comforting if it weren't framing such ominous processional chords. "Versus" exposes the real meat of Secret of the Moon's sound; simple melodic motifs picked in single notes and tremolo, alternating with a finite collection of roaring detuned riffs. These come together over lengthy, mostly linear songs that initially resemble a modernised early Bathory, a more malevolent latter day Immortal, or perhaps a militant Shining. Each track develops a striving and melodic narrative reach that is hamstrung slightly by an ambivalent stance to formula from track to track. "Lucifer Speaks" and the closing half of "Ghost" for example, sound as if they could have been from the same sessions that produced Death Cult Armageddon with their symphonic guitars and lackadaisically rasping vocals; the former complete with a love-it-or-loathe-it hate chant. Their faintly cheesy aroma is luckily not as melancholic as the rest of Antithesis, which unravels like a funeral march over eschatological battlefields, swathed in a sound that augurs the brooding post-apocalyptic airs of a more stylised band such as Zyklon.
The heavier riffs and deliciously varied drumming that feature over the duration of Antithesis often have a death-doom musculature that offsets the full, classic black metal narratives suggested by the skeleton of melodic ideas and furious, blasting bridges. While another contemporary narrative black metal band such as Deathspell Omega uses their heavier riff sets as sequents in linear context to the whole, Secrets of the Moon here sound dichotomised, as if folkloric father and urban mythic son are discoursing independently for a piece of our ear pie. "Metamorphoses" in particular contrasts the archaic flavour of Latin chanting and fast double bass with a fun but unruly propensity to revert to syncopated mid pace chugs. Despite such fragmentations, the album's stomping dirges and ethereal, musty tremolos still gradually cycle to majestic climaxes, even the almost-plagiarised and sluggish "Lucifer Speaks".
Although the vocals don't trouble to make themselves noticed, the words behind them do. Litanies unite vivid corporeal images and mantra-like commands that pull the listener into uncertain spiritual precipices, and do much to temper the intrepid theatricality bubbling away under the surface of the music. The aggressive tones of "Ordinance" come to mind, its swaggering bulk steered with intelligible chants of 'you cruel king' throughout. Other invectives pepper the songs with almost Khanate-like lyrical doom, and I only wish I had the space to demonstrate the rest.
Antithesis ultimately comes across as a hugely headbangable experience and presages some hopefully boundary pushing material to come from Secrets of the Moon. In spite of (or probably because of) its deceptive simplicity, perhaps the greatest accolade I can offer this record is sheer longevity; its songs face up to many listens, and may yet echo their doom at Judgement Day long after the last hate chants have been sloughed away from something actually evil.
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