Thursday, December 17, 2009

Agatus - Black Moon (1994)

For many, the Hellenic Black Metal scene consists only of Rotting Christ, Varathron and Necromantia. This was true for me, for quite some years. I never bothered to look deeper into things as I couldn't imagine there being many more bands coming from this area. Upon asking a friend of mine if there were any other decent bands to check out (assuming there might be one, if I was lucky), I soon discovered that there was a whole world of music waiting to be explored. Among the first that I was introduced to was Agatus, via the Black Moon promo. This was, actually, their second release. The first thing I noticed was the photo of the Chindia Tower, in Romania, on the cover. This has some significance, as I've actually visited this place. I was already interested, based on that. The next thing was the fact that the running time was under six minutes. Usually, this would be seen as a shortcoming, but it served as an inviting factor in getting me to give these guys a chance. Even laziness couldn't prevent me from checking this out, as I had no excuse not to invest six minutes in this.

"Black Moon's Blood" begins with a brief, yet majestic, intro. The Greeks were always much better at this type of thing than many others. Immediately, the song shifts to full speed. The sound is remarkably clear, while possessing enough character to suit the music. The guitar riffs are the standard tremolo-picked style, accompanied by powerful and blasting drums. The vocals are quite frenzied, though sparse. As a matter of fact, the only lyrics seem to be the title of the song being repeated a handful of times. It all ends with a brief 'choir' section, similar to something Dissection or Hypocrisy might have used around this time. For a song that clocks in under three minutes, it certainly makes and impact and leaves its mark.

The second song is "Force of Desecration". It picks up where the previous one left off, going at full speed. It appears to have more lyrics, as well. After about a minute, the pace slows down, briefly. Then, the feeling becomes a little more... 'epic' wouldn't be the right word, I suppose, but it definitely has more feeling during this section, as it builds a sense of tension. The lead solo serves as the climax of the song, continuing toward the conclusion. Again, for such a short song, it's very memorable and sticks in your head for some time.

While this release offered nothing terribly original, it does provide another dose of quality Black Metal, far superior to the legions of over-produced, substance-lacking bands that would follow. Black Moon is a very succinct release, giving just a small taste of what was to come on their debut full-length, Dawn of Martyrdom, which exceeded the lofty expectations created by this promo.