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Melancholic Nostalgia - 81%

ghastlylugosi, April 8th, 2009

Frostmoon Eclipse are a black metal band with a very distinctive style that is seemingly, oddly, an expansion of an idea from one of my favourite all-time early black/death classic songs, "Nightmare Lake" by Cemetary on their debut full-length "An Evil Shade of Grey" ('92?). If anyone remembers that song, you'll recall some good basic guitar riffing, memorable in itself, with a very gloomy and eerie sound to it...which is broken up suddenly by a creepy acoustic passage that is not just a bridge, but an actual part of the song. All ingredients combine to form an oppressive, sinister and unforgettably satisfying song that seeps into you like a ghastly effluvium from a forgotten tomb (the rest of that Cemetary album is nothing to scoff at, either!); Frostmoon Eclipse very closely duplicate that period in metal history...that song in particular. But a whole album's worth.

To be sure, the formula on "Another Face of Hell" can grow into tedium, unless you really, really, really like the sound of it. Which I do. The songs are mostly mid- to fast-paced, and in almost every one, the acoustic passages break up the black metal proceedings. Most instances this sounds congrous, but there are a few spots where it just sounds unnecessary, as if the band decided "putting in acoustic passages is what we do, and so we must put one in this song as well". Perhaps many readers already know that Frostmoon Eclipse has an entirely acoustic album out called "Dead and Forever Gone" (highly recommended for fans of the gloomy, but not for all black metal fans, certainly!).

At this point, in order to continue with a description of the non-acoustic bulk of the album, I must address the production: VERY claustrophobic and murky. The album has a muffled, moaning sound to it, with hardly any sharpness. The instruments can all be heard, but as if from a different room, rather close to the sound Darkspace produces. I, personally, wish the production for both bands was more sharp, but you certainly won't mistake either band for anyone else. Upon several listens, one begins to accept Frostmoon Eclipse's sound (as well as Darkspace's) and can concentrate on the songs on offer. But be warned, you may at first frown at the production on "Another Face of Hell"; eventually you will probably accept it as just another facet of this gloomy journey. Though it IS very distracting at first.

The songs are in many instances quite memorable. There are also a few generic parts that could be any black metal band, however played in the F.E. style. Really, the closest thing I can compare it to is the afore-mentioned Cemetary song, almost to a degree of plagiarism! F.E. is quite a bit more black metal thoughout; though they are not as bleak or kvlt or necro or formulaic as many black metal bands...however, they are 'formulaic' within their own formula (maybe their other albums aren't as monodimensional, I don't know?) The guitars are give the feeling of unpleasant parasites under your skin, scratching and gnawing to get out, and are very expertly played, with no "progressive" noodling to annoy the gloomy listener. The drums are once in awhile noticeably energetic and have a bit of personality; not just there to keep the beat. Bass.....hah, in this case, it sounds like maybe ALL the guitars were basses (not to that extreme, really); not a stand-out. The vocals are the lower-end raspy 'sepulchral voice' type, and sometimes rasping whispers, which suit the music perfectly. In truth, these songs do sound like they are from the early 90's, but with their own dismal flair.

"Another Face of Hell" has a lot of merit, if you like it you'll REALLY like it, even though it is confined within the band's own parameters ( though completely different, we can compare it to the tunnel-vision of "Panzer Division Marduk"....monodimensional, but extremely effective in it's purpose, great to some, unendurable to others). I actually like it more than the "81" rating I gave, but had to deduct because of the adherence to "formula". It does serve to create a very melancholic mood (nothing really too savage on here, but would be quite unpalatable for many doom or goth listeners; it IS more abrasive than early Katatonia or My Dying Bride) but still remains in the context of what is considered black metal. All in all a pleasing listen, and refreshing in a world of so many sound-alikes