Secrets of the Moon
Seven Bells

One of the best kept secrets coming out of the German black metal scene they have been overlooked for far too long. Secrets of the Moon are back with their fifth full length release. They have been kicking around in one form or another for quite a long time, with sG being around for all five full lengths, joining in 1997 and drummer Thelemnar playing on four of them and being in the band since 2001. Ar is the ‘new’ guy, joining for this album, though he has been known to us over in Odem Arcarum where he has been since 1995, so no big deal that no original members remain in the band. I think that Daevas brought the name Secrets of the Moon over from a Lunar Aurora song. Anyway, these guys have a long history and deserve some recognition for their contributions to the more progressive atmospheric side of black metal. This is an album highly anticipated by me if by no others, though I honestly can not understand the disdain directed toward them. To which they proclaim in the booklet, “Who are you to judge about wounds, the star and the fruits of paradise? Fuck off!”

I can easily jump back and forth between Seven Bells and say Carved in Stigmata Wounds without feeling like a favorite band has betrayed their origins. They have evolved in a positive direction and they are a damn fine band now as well as then.

Now you know their style change was so gradual it is not jarring to hear them now but still they have not abandoned their roots, which can be seen if not directly heard in the video for “Nyx”. Now with the newest album, Seven Bells, I think they sound how they are supposed to sound and I imagine they are quite happy with how the disc turned out. Darkthrone, Emperor and Celtic Frost still resonate yet the thrash elements play a vital role now early on the disc, as do the more ephemeral atmospheric flourishes that have always been there. Synchronized riffing, abrupt speed changes, intricate drum patterns, and an overall heaviness and crunch are balanced by the proper black metal aura that is still part of the exhibition.

Epic is often used as a descriptive simply to designate length of song, which I always thought irrelevant. Epic can be two minutes and twelve minute dirges can be anything but epic. Once again Secrets provided both long songs and epic songs. If you liked Privilegivm you should like this one, if you came across the tour 7 inch Warhead you have already heard a short version of “Seven Bells.” The seven minute title track sets the tone early and if you are not engaged by the two minute mark you won’t be. They are not afraid to have extended slow passages with minimal notes nor are they afraid to tear off a run of blastbeats.

Even before reading the press release I could hear Tom G. Warrior. He co-produced the album and the excellent “Worship” in particular shows the bands’ respect for Tom. By the time you get to the end of “Nyx” you will be bruised and scarred, and possibly brainwashed into hitting repeat and by now you’ll have forgotten the loss of the heavier elements one third the way into the album and you will also recognize that the power of these songs is cumulative, meant to be experienced as a whole. Welcome to the newest direction of Secrets of the Moon, and once again it makes sense because it was telegraphed a few years back and once again they have successfully brought me along. The worship service that is “Nyx” is sure to have brought favor to them so that the moon will impart yet more secrets for them to explore on the next album, and yes I’m already looking forward to that one.

this world is coming to an end
the bells are tolling
calling for the devil send
you that have wandered far and wide
the church is open now
and all the stars are blind
this world is coming to an end.
So says “The Three Beggars,” which closes out the album demonstrating that blastbeats and warbling guitars still have a place in their future, and at twelve minutes, “The Three Beggars” has plenty of room to explore the themes set down with some memorable soundscapes to carry you over till the next one. Unless Satan does not succeed,
“let’s rebuild satan’s church
let him reign in here forever
let him roam through our corridors
let his time stand still
let him work for a thousand years.”

And lest you feel this is simply Tom Warrior putting his forceful personality on another project, which is not a bad thing, there is nothing here that Secrets of the Moon has not at least whispered about on previous conjurings during nocturnal new moons in the black forest.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
May 2nd, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: denial

    Very well known band for years now,since at least stronghold,this new.pp isn’t their best but its quite good.


  2. Commented by: Grimulfr

    Glad you have known them. Most I mention them to have no clue.


  3. Commented by: Cal

    thanks for the great review Grimulfr, I’ve liked them since Antithesis, and was a little worried about Tom G’s involvement, but it sounds like it’s a positive.
    cheers


  4. Commented by: Guilliame

    I really like this album. Blackened Doom seems to be bulging at the seams this year and i like the doomy slower elements of this release. If i wanted relentless tremelo picking, i could just play Antaeus or whatever. This album is extremely well produced and written. It feels and sounds like a mature effort. 4.5 and top 25 so far.


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