Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moonblood / Deathspell Omega - Sob A Lua Do Bode / Demoniac Vengeance (2001)

Despite the fact that the band had officially been laid to rest following the release of Taste Our German Steel, there was still an abundance of unreleased material that had been recorded for a handful of ill-fated projects. As a result, Moonblood continued to make posthumous appearances. The songs featured on the End All Life / Sombre Records Sob A Lua Do Bode / Demoniac Vengeance split L.P., with Deathspell Omega, were originally recorded in November 1997 and ended up sitting on the shelf for quite a few years before being released. Limited to only 350 copies, this is rare but worth seeking out for the Moonblood material, alone. As for Deathspell Omega, the songs are a little underwhelming and unable to meet the expectations that many may have, going in.

Moonblood starts the L.P. out (and rightfully so) with "Forgotten Spells in the Forests Nocturnal". From the opening moments, the atmosphere is dark, grim and unexpectedly epic. The main riff is a tremolo-picked melody that falls very much in line with the material that was used for the Katharsis split (being recorded during the same session) as well as their second full-length. It has been said many times that this style is very reminiscent of Darkthrone, yet the band manages to inject enough of their own creativity that it may betray their influences but never sounds like a carbon-copy. The melodies are very memorable, while maintaining a cold and sombre feeling. Nearly everything here is done to perfection, showing a very clear understanding of this style of music. The only complaint would have to be the acoustic section at the end, which does not blend in well with the rest of the instruments.

"A Silent Dream of Impurity" begins with a sorrowful intro section that includes a clean guitar as well as an overall epic vibe. Soon, this transitions to a faster tempo of raw and frigid Black Metal. The riffs flow from one to the next, very smoothly, like a sharpened blade slicing through pale virgin flesh. These melodies do well to carry the listener to another world, leaving behind the mundane existence that curses many in this wretched age. The vocals are filled with hate as the guitars penetrate the fuzz and static of the grim production job.

The next song has a slightly different tone, at first, until the second guitar comes in and adds a layer of bitter cold frost. "Bells of Apocalypse" features some of the most sorrowful riffs, yet the general atmosphere is not as depressive as one might expect, based on the utter contempt and venom being spewed from Gaamalzagoth. Much like the raw sound of the music, the vocals carry a very primitive, harsh feeling as well. There are brief sections with some sort of sound effects added in, including bells and some hellish chanting. This helps add a layer of darkness to the proceedings, though the main riffs were doing a good job already. Late in the song, additional riffs are introduced and they carve through you with no remorse, joined by maniacal howls.

Sob A Lua Do Bode ends with "I Hail the Night", which picks up from where the previous song leaves off. Again, the fast-paced drumming and tremolo riffs are accompanied by the malevolent, raving vocals to create a dark and epic masterpiece of a song. The pace shifts a little, near the middle, but this brief nod to the past soon gives way to blood-curdling guitar riffs that drive you deeper into the foggy night. The atmosphere of this track truly justifies its placement, as it does give a sense of finality and works well to end Moonblood's contributions to this split L.P.

"And my ways goes through the forest of lost souls
Through the forest of nocturnal hate
And I lost my soul in these diabolical areas
And the path is darkened by a shade"

Demoniac Vengeance starts out with "Follow the Dark Path", and while the production is similar to the Moonblood material, it still sounds kind of weak by comparison. The same can be said of the songwriting, as Deathspell Omega was not capable of holding their own with the legends of German Black Metal. That said, this song is not bad and features some good riffs in the old Darkthrone style, as well. Their approach is a little more derivative, but still possessing a feel that is identified with Deathspell Omega. It sounds as if they were still using a drum machine at the time, though this may not be the case. At any rate, it comes off as a little less natural than some of their other releases from this time period. Shaxul's vocals do not seem quite as intense as usual, either. The riffs do well to overcome any of the potential shortcomings, giving a disturbing and morbid feeling, especially during the slower part that arrives in the middle of the song. One thing that the two bands on this L.P. do share is the ability to create an epic vibe while working with a relatively minimalist type of music.

"Morbid Rituals" bears similarities to some of the songs that would appear on Inquisitors of Satan, though some of the cold tremolo riffs are more sorrowful and epic, in a way. Halfway through, the pace transitions to something more chilling and macabre, making use of open-arpeggio riffs and a slower tempo that allows the atmosphere to become even darker. Fog rises from the damp earth, illuminated by the moonlight, as nocturnal spirits guide you through the darkened graveland and into the forest that lays beyond.

This split L.P. comes to an end with "Yells from the Abyss", though it does not make the same impression as the previous tracks. Some parts sound similar to "From Unknown Lands of Desolation", and it is likely that they were merely recycled and re-worked. As with the other songs, the pace slows down after a few minutes and allows an evil feeling to creep over you. It is a familiar formula, so there is no shame in this, despite the predictability. The thrashier riffs, later in the song, seem out of place and do little to add to the overall composition. In this way, the band fails to go out on a high note and, instead, ends with a whimper.

The Moonblood material is much more essential, just for the fact that it is some of the best stuff that the band ever recorded, while Deathspell Omega's contributions were not as earth-shattering. Two of their three songs were fairly good, but pale in comparison to the mighty Moonblood. This is a case where the two bands featured on a split were a little too far apart, in terms of quality; therefore, the lesser of the two comes off looking worse than they should, perhaps. In the end, it is a solid release and well worth the time to track down.