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Moonblood - 80%

Noctir, October 30th, 2011

Rising from the ashes of Demoniac, Occulta Mors and Gamaalzagoth began an extremely productive collaboration under the name of Moonblood, releasing their self-titled debut demo in August 1994. This tape contains an hour of music, and shows a band with unlimited potential. In most cases, bands end up recording albums far too soon, not spending enough time in the demo phase where they would be able to master their craft; however, Moonblood is a band that definitely should have been afforded the opportunity to record their music in a proper studio and to release their work in the form of actual albums, instead of poorly-produced cassettes. These two certainly had a very good idea of what they wanted to achieve and were quite successful in doing so. Moonblood was the only the beginning...

Following a sombre intro, "Hope" soon erupts into a maelstrom of raging flames. That is the feeling conveyed by the hellish guitar melodies, aided by the necro production. This was, obviously, not what they intended and yet it works so well. The main riffs carry a dismal tone, and are some of the most simplistic of the band's existence. It seems more like a jam session, since the drumming is so difficult to hear, and even the vocals are buried under a few feet of dirt.

"In the Forest of Red Water" continues the gloomy feeling, with a slow build. This is the lengthiest song on here, and actually does well to evoke some sort of epic feeling. Already, the Viking-era Bathory influence can be felt; an inspiration that would remain throughout the band's career, and come to full fruition in its successor band, Nachtfalke. After a few minutes, the pace picks up and races forth at a blinding speed. There is a sense of sorrow that can be felt, mourning the loss of something significant. As the track experiences its final death throes, one gets the image of a valiant warrior being stricken down on the battlefield, one shot after another failing to break his will, until his body finally succumbs and he falls to the ground and fades from this world in a pool of his own blood.

The next song, "Graves From the Stone Under Cemeterymoon", slowly emerges from the darkness, like a sorrowful death march. The riffs bear an epic quality, before giving way to a lone tremolo riff that is soon joined by blasting drums and demonic vocals. As the song progresses, some of the fast tremolo melodies hearken back to the introductory riffs, and maintain a similar feeling. Things can get a bit blurry, if you are not paying attention, due to the poor sound quality. The track ends with everything slowing down to a crawl, finally letting out one last tortuous wail.

"Moonblood" is somewhat more upbeat, for the first half of the song. By the middle, it goes into a slower section that echoes Chopin's funeral march and thus creating a gloomy atmosphere of lifelessness and despair. The subsequent riffs contradict this aura, displaying the indomitable spirit of a true warrior, defying even death itself.

This is followed by "In A Bloody Night of Fullmoon", which is far more primitive than the version on Blut und Krieg, which actually works well. There is a nice effect from the method by which the melody is played, and this is more haunting than the synth that carries this melody in the later version. There are places where the song does not sound as connected, but that is to be expected at this stage. For the most part, it sounds very similar to the L.P. version. though it does not flow as well. Either way, it is interesting to hear.

"Eternal Satanic Winter" features another brilliant mixture of grim Second Wave Black Metal sounds mixed in with Viking-era Bathory influences. The result is epic and yet raw as hell, at the same time. The transition from the mid-paced battle riffs to the tremolo melody is very well done. A chaotic guitar solo is also thrown in, for good measure. The faster riffs are among the most memorable on the demo, making it seem strange that this song did not appear on either of the band's full-length efforts. The rough production kills some of the effect, later on, but one can easily feel the potential that this track had.

The guitar tone on "Songs of Fullmoon" sounds a little sharper, at times. Overall, this track is another good mixture of Viking Metal and raw Black Metal in the northern style. The transitions are seamless, rather than being awkward like many other bands would do at this point in their career. Listening to this, one cannot help but think about the sheer number of quality Moonblood tracks that were never revisited. It is a shame, as the band could easily come together to re-record old material and never have to write anything new.

"Sign of Evil" is a fairly straightforward song, mostly sticking to the formula Darkthrone utilized on Transilvanian Hunger, though with brief interruptions. The riffs are not as thought-out as on the previous tracks, though the pitiful production could be concealing their true quality.

The final song is "Demoniacs", starting out with ominous riffs that help to create a dark and evil feeling. While interspersed with some cold tremolo melodies, the doom riffs dominate this track and give rise to imagery of barbarian hordes crushing the weak and trampling their skulls into the dirt, terrorizing and destroying all in their path.

"In the Forest" is a keyboard outro, probably inspired by Burzum, though not quite to the same level. Still, it is a nice touch and adds a little more character to the demo.

Moonblood is an excellent beginning for a band that would go on to be considered the true elite of German Black Metal. None of their peers ever came close to what they achieved. As for this demo tape, the only thing holding it back is the horrible production. Some necro recordings are enjoyable, but this is actually so bad that it makes it difficult to hear what is going on and causes some of the songs to have a weaker effect than they would have, otherwise. Despite this, once you can train your ears to really focus on what is going on, there is a lot to appreciate. This comes highly recommended and should be a rewarding experience for those willing to give the time and effort to truly immerse themselves in it.

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It's good. No really, it is. - 64%

Shadespawn, October 2nd, 2008

Moonblood's first plastic release, in form of a tape in 1994. It bears the simple name of the band itself "Moonblood". Moonblood have been around for quite a while now, hailing from Germany and rising from the ashes of the second wave of black metal, which was severely decimated in about 94'. They only release material on tapes or vinyl for whatever reasons they may have. Moonblood represents the spirit of black metal that they try (and succeed for that matter) to preserve and conserve. 2005 was my first encounter with them and at that time at least, it was still a bit difficult to get a hold of their stuff. But with the growing number of "specialist" amongst friends and the Internet nowadays, it has become fairly simple.

The musical presentation on this tape is amazing. Epic themes and interesting song structures are what make this release majestic. There have been many connections to the "NSBM" scene considering this band, but the way they present their music is (almost) ideology-free and shouldn't be a bother for that matter. Since this tape is very limited (about 160 copies), the only place to get it from is the Internet or, if one is inclined to spend a small fortune on one of the original tapes, from traders. First time I listened to this, I was hypnotized by the dark and sinister sounding intro with a very desperate and old sounding guitar tone. It's a simple melody that can be played on only one string. Simple, but very effective. A very high pitched guitar tone accompanies the songs as they progress, as well as a tormented, guttural screaming M. Schmat. The guitars and vocals are recorded well and do not overlap each other, which makes it more pleasant to listen to. One can barely hear the bass, but since this is only a rehearsal demo tape, it's not surprising. The atmosphere the tape creates is really evil and without compromises, once you turn up the volume, it really grasps your attention. For the trained ear, this tape may be an excellent, flawless piece of black metal, but for listeners of better quality such as Burzum or Darkthrone, listening to this may indeed prove to be a rather difficult task.

So why the 64% low rating, if I like this tape so much? As this tape may be recorded in stereo, or at least sounds like it is, there is one major flaw: the drums. The quality of the drums on 1994 - Moonblood is really awful. It's almost intolerable. In fact, it's so difficult to enjoy this, solely because of this fact. It goes even as far, as the musical coulisse becomes a soup of mushy cymbal and snare strokes, sounding more like an annoying hissing than actual drum patterns. Now, normally I wouldn't complain, as listening to such artists as Merzbow and liking them really builds up your endurance for buzzing or hissing in music. While that may be true, that doesn't change the fact that Merzbow is intended to sound like that, whereas Moonblood actually have nice drum parts and beats and it's really annoying when one can not listen to them due to their poor quality. In other words: noise music fills different holes with different initial emotions, whereas black metal fulfills other needs.

A nice highlight on this album is track nr.4, which reminds of Chopin's funeral march, as it shares the same melody. Recommended for fans of great black metal, who have nerves made out of steel.

As good as Blut Und Krieg - 95%

Taliesin, August 31st, 2006

I have to say this, the earliest self titled demo of Moonblood remains as one of their best releases. The sound is raw, very distant and difficult, but that means little, it is Moonblood after all. This earlier view of Moonblood is a dark creation of epic quality and yet an evil horrific feeling that is very powerful.

Opening with Hope, a song that has a very powerful melancholy and medieval feeling, one knows that Moonblood is here to create black metal that is infused with the dark medieval spirit that has increasingly become lost among newer bands. The production layers the music under a thick sense of grim and an ancient quality that is very spectral and haunting. The vocals are a harsh distorted attack over the rest of music, but still feels well layered into the whole. The riffs on all of the songs on here are excellent, creating a dark pure black metal feeling. One feels the call of the forest, the dark lord above all, the lycanthropic urge, the vampyric hunger, everything that cold winter black metal needs to call forth upon the listener.

Like all Moonblood now this isn't hard to find the music files, and certainly it is worth digging up. If you love The Winter Falls Over the Land or Blut Und Krieg you should listen to this. Lacking the less interesting thrashy songs of Blut Und Krieg, this is all quality, creating a powerful listening experience from beginning to end. I'm glad I checked this out, because it's well worth it, providing a rewarding hour of music that will stand the test of time. Just stay away if grim production values annoy you.