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Moloch are a band that have never ceased to impress me. I first got to learn of their existence through Sergiy Gordiuk, originally the owner of the label my band was signed to, and now a friend. After countless promotional fliers about this album, I decided to buy it (adding to my existing, ever-growing collection of Moloch releases).
This six track album showcases some melancholic, raw black dissonance alongside slow, soothing piano melodies. The raw songs build up, in Xasthur-esque style, with walls of guitar noise; overdriven, coloured fifth chords, under which dirty, muddy bass resonates like claws reaching from a black lake. The drums, although too low in the mix, are appropriately slow and looming, presenting a dragged-out feel to the songs which adds to the melancholy evil created in the waves of black noise. Vocally, Sergiy is on top form, shrieking the most tormented wails (imagine nails scraping down a blackboard), which he combines with spoken interludes that give insight into the pain and suffering beneath the music.
I feel the piano dark ambient tracks should be given a separate sub-review. Nicely complimenting the black metal/shoegaze, the piano tracks create tension and anguish in the listener's mind, drawing up dark, depressive emotions. The high-pitched keys, bright in the mix, echo slightly after their initial sounding, under which tormented choirs sing fitting harmonies.
The production quality is suitably low, adding fuzz to the guitars, dark feeling to the bass, and a nicer EQ to the drums. The only negative on the album is related to the production, this being that Sergiy's vocals are too bright and high in the mix, often echoing out above the music, instead of gracefully into it.
This album is a journey down a dark, evil path of sorrow and despair. Buy it now!
The opening track, entitled Depressive Visionen Eines Sterbenden Horizonts, immediately shows off the ambience that Moloch puts into their music, with that semi-melodic intro. The majority of the song is instrumental, with occasional spoken word and screams in the verses. All the lyrics are also in German, as are the song titles on the record, which add an industrial coldness to the music. All instruments are played by Moloch's sole member, yet thanks to the good production sound clear and precise. The percussion that sits underneath the droning guitars pounds out a mid-paced rhythm, only interrupted by subtle cymbal crashes and other percussion.
It all ends with some lonely plucked bass guitar, before silence. The piano of Wenn Der Herbsthimmel Ergraut Ist is very placed and provides a moment for quiet contemplation. It's not what I was expecting to hear amongst an ambient black metal album, but is welcome variation. It shows that Moloch is also a very accomplished composer and multi-instrumentalist.
The black metal rears it's head again during Die letzten Strahlen der Sonne verblassen in der Kälte der Apathie. This time with a low-end rumble and ice cold screams. Once again, Moloch's trademark maddening screams unsettle you with every breath. Ferne Wälder.... is another piano song, which is used more as a instrumental interlude but still sounds great in it's own right. Das Leben Ist.... is a shorter song, but still employs plenty of droning low-end riffs to carry it. The guitar is the mainstay of the record in fact, with the percussion and vocals seemingly playing around it.
The title track was the last song of the original 2010. release. This is one of the noisiest songs on the record. Not due to the volume but the way the fuzz of the guitar makes it sound like a whole orchestra of guitars. It closes out however, for the last two minutes or so with some ambient strings, which is another mainstay of Moloch's more ambient sounding records.
The first of the bonus tracks on Isolation Der Essenz is entitles E.khu and is another mainly instrumental piece, featuring lowly choral singing in the background, underneath the piano melody. Meine Ganze Hoffnung Stirbt is the last salvo on this record. It's another ambient instrumental song, featuring a brass instrument that I can't quite make out, as the main instrument. This is a long, winding song, weighs in at just over 25 minutes in length. It brings to a close, what has been a varied and interesting album.
Moloch always surprises me with the way he can switch between more traditional, cold black metal and calming ambient music and retain a high level of integrity. The music always seems to flow very well.
"The Essence Of Isolation" - Translated from the German name of this full length album, suits the black / ambient core of this project perfectly.
The album, headed by Pr.Sergiy, consists of six compositions. Three of these tracks are forged in the vein of depressive black metal, whilst the remaining three tracks are composed as melancholic ambient passages. The ambient compositions are placed quite logically and to great effect, creating a divide between the dark arts displayed on this release (black metal tracks: 1, 3 & 5, ambient tracks: 2, 4, & 6) .
It should be noted however, that Moloch can adequately display what is offered here. Meaning this release is by no means revolutionary. Don't misunderstand though, it's a fantastic portrayal of pain, misery, hate and despair, but it's been done before by Moloch. Then again, it is a winning combination!
If you're familiar with Moloch, you know what to expect. For those of you not in the know, brace yourselves to be delved into a deep, dark, doomy, melancholic aura. Buzzing guitars, live drums, tormented screams, and haunting keyboards. Even the booklet itself symbolizes this feeling, with an appropriate design that depicts beautiful natural landscapes of the starry night sky, and frozen, almost paralysed nature portraits.
Of course the lyrics are written in an appropriate manner as well. The main ideas being sorrow, sadness and absurdities within the existence of human manifestations. The text within the booklet is supplied in Ukrainian and English, although the track titles are once again written in German.
As tormenting and fitting as the screams may be, they are quite typical of this genre, high pitched shrieks. The guitar sound gives the album it's character though. Icy, harsh, suffocating, depressive in every sense of the word, even with occasional clean vocals imposed upon them. The drumming is well executed, with an almost acoustic feel, helping maintain the hypnotic haze created.
The ambient compositions differ in mood however. A range of feelings from desire, passion and comforting to longing, isolation, pity and sympathy.
Thus, Isolation der Essenz is yet another instalment of scars upon already tattered wrists. Instead of starting upon a virgin piece of flesh, this album carries on exactly where its predecessors last left off.
Recommended to fans of Moloch's previous works, such as: A Journey To The Vyrdin, Misanthropie Ist Der Einzige Weg Zur Reinheit. Do yourself a favour and buy this sooner rather than later, the CD format is limited to 500 copies only.