Luna Field

On their debut album, Close to Prime, German outfit Luna Field had an interesting take on how to merge (in their words) “atmospheric black metal” with “militant death metal.” They simply split the album into two halves – the Dead Side and the Black Side. This was not a strict dichotomy, as the Black Side still featured a thunderous atmosphere, and vocalist Benny Rakidzija’s insanely high cricket-screeches (seriously, the guy makes Dani Filth sound like Mikael Akerfeldt) pierce Dead Side opener “Odial.”

On their second disc, Diva, Luna Field dispense with the semantics and have now merged it all into one blasting onslaught of black/death. The overtly black metal elements have mostly been dropped from the equation, though – mostly guttural roars, with the cricket vocals now downtuned to an only occasionally-heard rasp, and any symphonic/atmospheric touches used sparingly. What we’re left with is a band that sounds a lot like Behemoth, Zyklon and Belphegor. (Not surprising, considering drummer Tomasz Janiszweski once played with the latter act).

At first, Diva is an invigorating, overpowering listen – a huge, jackhammering production courtesy of MasterSound, with enough crispness to discern each element of the cacophony. Openers “Godparade” and “Kill Bastard Kill” absolutely roar with relentless menace, and at times, the band reaches Anaal Nathrakh-like levels of insanity – the explosive break at 1:00 on “Camoflauge” almost punctured my eardrums.

A few symphonic touches occasionally blare from within the belly of the juggernaut – some warhorns here, a warble of strings or calliope keys there – but not enough to really color the compositions. This, I think, was a missed opportunity – I’m not asking for anything on the pompous level of a Dimmu Borgir, just something more to break up what becomes a fairly monotonous experience.

This lack of color is even more confusing given the cover art and the band members’ face-painted personas, both of which suggest something between Anorexia Nervosa‘s grandiose theatrics and the 1930’s showmanship of Marilyn Manson‘s Golden Age of Grotesque. Also, Diva is supposed to be a concept album, with a revolution-minded narrative, but I couldn’t catch enough of that through the blastathon.

Ultimately, this is an impressive slab of black/death, but it loses its impact about halfway through simply because the songs become interchangeable. I think that a band like Septic Flesh have proved (on recent release Communion) that you can add atmospheric touches to death metal without tilting too far into camp. Hopefully Luna Field can bring more of the atmosphere back next time and will deliver something truly overwhelming.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
January 7th, 2006


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