Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chaos Moon - Langour Into Echoes... Beyond

In a way, Chaos Moon have one of the most appropriately titled names of any black metal band. Instead of dubbing their band some absurd combination of letters, they chose a moniker that actually described their music - a combination of chaotic black metal and spacey, lunar vistas. Chaos Moon may appear to be a typical black metal project on the outside but they are toying with some interesting elements that separate them from the crowded mob of new wave black metal bands. Following in the footsteps of Deathspell Omega, Leviathan and any number of modern black metal outfits, Chaos Moon, hailing from an unlikely Nashville, Tennessee, combine the atmospheric ambiance and spaced out feel of subtle melody changes and wet, liquid tones with the more direct, punctual and precise attack of modern bands like Watain and Keep of Kalessin. Chaos Moon have opted away from the overproduced, hyped up technicality of the aforementioned acts and instead have decided to stay rooted in a more underground production style and more streamlined playing style.

The decision works in their favor and Chaos Moon's 2007 release Languor Into Echoes... Beyond shows a band experimenting with styles, textures and ideas at an expert level. In fact, Chaos Moon's chemistry of melody and ambiance while maintaining the ability to break into vicious black metal frostiness really gives their debut album a helping hand; lifting it to a level beyond mediocre. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Languor is a black metal revelation or the next Transilvanian Hunger etc., but it is an interesting listen to for fans of black metal. The power metal and traditional metal fans out there - particularly those of European leaning - may find some interesting moments on the disc in the form of keyboard and synth sections, but I would reserve listening to veterans of more blackened metal paths. Still, anyone interested in experiencing new and creative music would find Chaos Moon's style worth a listen.

Examining this beast's two visages reveals a lot about what abyss this release pulls its best moments from and what makes songs like "Simulacrum of Mirrors" such rewarding journeys into auditory landscapes. Chaos Moon excel when combining the spacey and black metal components, lack at times when playing only black metal chaos, and are interesting but uninspired when meandering through their cosmic ambient travels. Opening track "De Mortalitate" is an example of all these parts and styles. As an opening track, it prepares the audience (or solitary explorer), presenting them with the view of a full spectrum (mostly) of everything that Languor has to offer on later hymns. For me, the track really expands into something more than mere black metal when the midway break arrives and expands into a combination of the aforementioned elements; the furious black metal and atmospheric space-scapes. It is vicious and epic and soothing simultaneously. It takes two listens to to appreciate "Mortalitates" simple structure and effective progression from blasting to spacey trance, to blasting once more. The subtle decent into trance-like subliminality and instant snap back to chaos mimics the mind's progress in a similar psychological situation. Structurally, it takes the same form as any number of chorus, verse metal songs but where a speed metal or thrash song would have a screaming solo, Chaos Moon instead place an atmospheric puddle of gray moodiness.The song contains a victorious sadness, perhaps saying something philosophical about mortality in it's aura. This victorious sadness is carried through the disc.

It is near the end of second track "Abstract Tongues" that I began to realize that the main perpetrator of Chaos Moon's attack, Esoterica (I must admit, a rather feminine title - I can imagine the dude working overtime as a transsexual mistress (misteress)) is an amazingly talented musician. This becomes even more apparent throughout following track "Waning." Esoterica's guitar playing is heavily inspired by Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger, an influence that helps create the atmosphere and trance that is common throughout. Where the disc differs is in the incredible drumming. Instead of opting for the lazy simplicity of Transilvanian Hunger, Esoterica instead employs a powerful barrage of drum battery. While it would far fetched to claim that the drumming is complex, it would be inconsiderate to say it is mindlessly simplistic. I am finding it difficult to tell if the drums are programmed due to their monotony. The clean vocals are provided by M.H. Listen closely during the sound scape in the median of "Simulacrum of Mirrors" and you can actually almost hear background noises. While there is nothing as mood destroying as a telephone ringing or cell phone going off, it does draw my attention away. After four minutes of numbing synths, however, it doesn't take much for my to relocate my focus.

No lyrics are given in the booklet however there are some choice words vague enough to apply to basically anything including, but not limited to, death, lost love, suicide, depression and the Keebler elves. M.H's clean vocals are audible at times and he seems to be stuck on some issue with a woman. Example: "If I could just reach over and touch her side of the bed... but I can't... I know I can't have her back." Brutal...

Chaos Moon are a worthwhile band to check out for fans of black metal with more open minds and a need for something a bit more involved than simple primitive bashing. The primitivism can be found on Languor Into Echoes... Beyond but this is not a simple release. Tracks like "The Palterer" are a prime example of what can be found and explored in Moon's music. Like "Simulacrum," "Palterer" has a vast moody middle section with a slightly proggy feel, melancholy mood and enough subtlety to bring you back several times in the future. Like "Mortalitate," this track also degenerates into more tumultuous churning. "Hymn To Iniquity" also falls into an ambient chasm, this time, accentuated with Esoterica's harsh vocals. Though the fall is steep, a soothing, heavenly melody accompanies you through the songs ritualistic vibe. "Hymn" would be my choice for standout track. It combines the chaos of black metal with the soothing ambient found elsewhere on the cd in a way that maintains my interest. Basically, this is a song you can lay back, close your eyes, and dream along to.

Closer "Countlss Reverie In Mare" follows along with the more ambient / black combination that "Hymn To Iniquity" maintained. The album's second longest track, "Reverie" is a step above a lot of black metal but is a bit fragmented. It too often degenerates into ambient sections to transition. This isn't a bad technique in of itself though when used more than three times in the same song, the effectiveness of said technique decreases. Ultimately, the abundance of soothing ambient on what could be considered the disc's b-side supports the album's two-faced quality. Whether or not this was the intention of Esoterica and M.H is unknown but if it was, It would give the CD yet another dimension to examine: At what point does the disc's focus change? Why? Is this a conceptual album? There are questions in regards to Languor Into Echoes... Beyond that are worth answering to better understand how to listen to the release itself. There is a split on the album though; moments separating the two schools. It comes halfway through "Simulacrum of Mirrors." It is after this moment that the disc drifts away from the blasted aggressiveness of opening tracks "De Mortalitates" and "Waning." While the blasting makes a speedy showing during "The Palterer," the disc ends on a mostly ambient note. With a lot of content, this is a release that will satisfy black metal fans of many different thoughts and leanings.

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