Friday, May 3, 2013

Moonblood - Rehearsal 9: Unpure Desires of Diabolical Lust (1996)

As the season of dying crept over the land and all fell within the grip of bitter cold winds, in the autumn months of 1996, Moonblood gathered in the nocturnal hours to record once again. Rehearsal 9 - Unpure Desires of Diabolical Lust emerged in December and was the final release of any kind for this year. Clocking in at an hour and a half, this massive collection of songs is padded only with one unnecessary cover tune. Otherwise, it is filled with many of the trademark sounds that Gaamalzagoth and Occulta Mors had become known for.

As with the last tapes, this material displays a good deal of variation from clean guitars, mid-paced sections and the fast tremolo riffs that many have come to expect. This rehearsal takes a little time to fully get going, as the first songs are more slow and plodding. If not for the vocals, would not be out of place on a Viking-era Bathory album. However, Gaamalzagoth's voice is a hateful and croaking sound that makes Abbath sound like a choir girl. Yet still, he also shows some range and throws in a good amount of tormented screams when called for. The arrangement of the tracks could have been a little better, as putting slower songs together at the beginning of the rehearsal could seem tedious for some. It takes nearly fifteen minutes to get to the first high-speed Black Metal riffs, in "Under the Abyssic Black Wings of the Third Antichrist". Even this is rather dynamic and not as straightforward as one might hope and some parts could have been shaved off to make a shorter and more direct song. The title track fits this description well, being more lean and to the point, a fast-paced song that would have been a better choice to lead off the tape. The  main guitar melodies possess the sombre and ethereal qualities that characterized many of the band's earlier works. This unearthly vibe is continued on "Into a Castle on the Blood-Rocks", though the poor sound makes it difficult to fully recognize, at times. The morose tremolo riffs resemble a ghostly and wailing wind, at times, creating a cold and dark atmosphere.

The feeling becomes even more melancholic, during "The Curse of the Warlord" and "To Kiss the Timeless Eternity", both carried forth by mournful guitar melodies. Again, the lousy quality makes it a bit problematic to fully immerse yourself in this, as things begin to run together and to become a rumbling mess. This almost seems more noticeable throughout the second half of this tape. This is not so much of an issue with "Forgotten Spells in the Forests Nocturnal" and "Supreme Black Forces of Steel", though that may also be a result of possessing such familiarity with the later, and much clearer, recordings of these songs. In truth, these would likely be under-appreciated as well, otherwise. Still, the occasional riff manages to cut through the fog, such as the hypnotic melodies in "Looking in the Eyes Infernal", but only temporarily. This can interfere with the music's ability to transport the listener to another time and place, as previous recordings so often did.

The sound is not very good, and it does require that the volume is turned up a bit to really catch a lot of what is going on. As with the last tape, the treble is fairly high so listening to this can be somewhat painful, but it is not as bad as it could be. During the slower sections, one can clearly make out the riffs and even the clean guitar passages and bass lines. The drumming is at a decent level, while the vocals are kind of high but no moreso than on most of the other recordings. Some of the faster songs would have truly benefited from a better sound, as the low quality makes it hard to appreciate some of the melodies. "Night of the Incubus" is a good example, as it is barely perceptible that there is a really good riff leading the song off, but it is buried in the muddled sound. It is hard to believe that the sound seems to have gotten worse with the later rehearsals, rather than staying the same or improving a little.

Unpure Desires of Diabolical Lust is another solid Moonblood recording. It is not an official release, so the few disappointments regarding structuring and arrangement cannot really be held against it so much. Some of the songs could have been trimmed down, while the emphasis on the mid-paced riffs could have been dialed back a little. As said before, Moonblood's best moments are generally the faster sections which often feature very eerie and haunting tremolo melodies. The less of this that they include, the less impressive the material seems. As for the best songs, it would seem that these guys did a good job in choosing a couple of the better ones to record again, later on, though "Into a Castle on the Blood-Rocks" would have been another worthy choice to make an appearance on a proper release. Either way, this tape is very much worth listening to for any Moonblood fan.