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In a string of chainsaw-production demos from Abigor, we see a slow, but sure development from a young, somewhat reserved black metal band, to a more adventurous sort of act. While improvements and evolution is evident in almost all of the demos, they all sadly share some of the worst production standards I have ever heard. 'Moonrise' is the fourth chronological demo from the dungeons of Abigor, and it is the first one where they have started to focus exclusively on longer songwriting. Their second demo 'Lux Devicta Est' had a nine minute track, but its aimlessness gave the impression that Abigor were not invested in taking that step at the time. Unlike the typical three song fare that Abigor is used to following when making their demos, 'Moonrise' consists of two longer tracks, and a short intro that involves frontman Peter Kubik spitting out some apocalyptic incantations. The two songs to come after are fairly similar in structure, largely featuring the howl of black metal that Abigor was now quite experienced with. In with the typical black metal elements are some sparse acoustics.
It is difficult to talk about the individual details of Abigor's music here however, because, like the other demos Abigor had done in the past, 'Moonrise' has some fatally bad production. Although 'Moonrise' can be lauded for seeing the band take a small artistic leap from their past demos, it may have even worse sound quality than the ones I have heard before. The sound generally amounts to a harsh blur of screams, burnt-out sounds that bear a semblance to guitars, and a faint beating in the background may or may not be drums. I'm not sure; whatever promise that was on 'Moonrise' is sorrowfully murdered by the demo production. Like the ones before, I have a feeling that Abigor recorded these exclusively for their own benefit, because as a listening experience, it is painful.
With their fourth demo, Abigor finally demonstrate a complete embrace of both their abilities and intentions.
Like Ash Nazg and the '94 promo, the music here is highly fluid, self-reflective, full of counterpoints and crescendos - in other words, very obviously inspired by classical. Unlike those two demos, however, Moonrise is also exceptional.
This is Abigor's most straightforwardly melodic work up to this point, and it gains a lot of strength from this core element. Lux Devicta Est is much darker, with many shifting moods and concepts; but this one is where melody ceases to be one concept out of many and becomes a primary emphasis. While this removes some of the space which could be filled by other sorts of musical efforts, it also allows that one effort itself to improve drastically.
Melodic phrasing veers between sharp, stuttering trills of guitar flair and motifs that are drawn out over a minute or longer, though often being even "faster" in sensation than the short trills. The band's fondness for counterpoint shows greater development here than anywhere else in their discography. Related to this, we get the first glimpse of how powerfully they can take a pair of transitional snippets so quiet they almost seem ambient in comparison to the rest of the music, and in so doing set up a glorious, rousing crescendo with a simple, but effervescent guitar solo.
Highly recommended for any fans of black metal. Although the compositional abilities would improve with later albums, they were rarely ever complemented by unity throughout an album. Alternatively, although Lux Devicta Est remains the band's most intense work, and is just as unified as this, it has little trace of the compositional flair which is what most people love most about Abigor. Moonrise provides a solid middle ground between these two extremes between which Abigor would later vacillate, over and over and over again...
"Where is your god now?" So Abigor queries in the intro to this demo. Nowhere near them, anyhow. What we have here is a small slice of old-style black metal, recorded in a fog of screeching voices and Satanic invocations, along with a twisting, constant guitar buzz and schizoid drums.
The speed is sub-Burzum, and the production and composition, while comparatively primitive, aren't as kvlt as a Moonblood or LLN demo. The roots of Abigor's later, more "progressive" material are clearly existant here, with snatches of melody and spoken-word parts. What endears this demo to me so much is the simple *attitude* it screams throughout, reminding me of the sense of wonder that black metal first provoked in me. Before BM acquired a "template" and numerous stylistic divisions, there were simply isolated hordes producing wondrous and obscure tapes like this one. Again, this isn't some 'avant-garde' statement, just a reminder of a time before the genre was popular and thus paranoid, when almost anyone who played this kind of music could be assumed to actually mean it. Abigor had nothing to prove here, no macho blastbeat competition, and melody and evil coexist quite comfortably on Moonrise.