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Rehearsal 2 - The Evil Rules is another Moonblood recording from 1994, recorded around the same period as My Evil Soul and Nosferatu. As with most of their rehearsals, this tape contains nearly an hour of material, most of it simple forgotten and unused for later recordings. So, for that reason alone, this is essential for fans of this band, since this music is unavailable in other forms. A couple of the riffs are clearly used later on but, for the most part, these songs are unique to this cassette.
One of the most important things to consider when approaching a Moonblood tape is the overall listenability. This time around, things are even muddier and more difficult to follow than on the preceding rehearsal. In particular, the percussion is too loud and becomes an indecipherable rumbling during the faster parts. The guitars possess a good tone that allows the melodies to sort of cut their way through the thunderous drums and to pierce your spirit deeply. Of course, as always, the grim and raspy vocals stand out from the rest as well. So, while this may require a little more attention than even the last recording, this can still be appreciated by those who will put forth the effort and concentration to do so.
For those that are not turned away by the raw and primitive sound, there are countless guitar melodies that will utterly haunt you until your final days, encircling you within the purest darkness and cold. Though the medieval intro (no doubt taken from a movie or something) may seem a little out of place, the actual compositions are brilliant. The eerie nature of the guitars is unquestionable and somewhat disturbing. From the otherworldly melodies to the truly black and unsettling tone, these riffs embody the true essence of black metal; i.e. something that is dark and somewhat frightening, yet still somehow attractive. This type of music should not be fun or easily accepted and treated as simple entertainment. Moonblood understood this and there is still the primal and dangerous feeling attached to their music that so few managed to maintain. There is an epic nature to the main riffs in songs like "The Evil Rules" as well as "And Then I Died", which is not limited to slower or more mid-paced sections. One need not sacrifice speed in order to create something epic and memorable, so long as the songwriting talent is there. Some of the songs are reminiscent of the likes of Mayhem or Darkthrone, yet with their own identity and feeling. This is how one properly takes inspiration from another; to operate within a similar style and framework, while still doing something rather unique and worthwhile. Just listening to the opening moments of "Infernal Screams in a Dark Night", one is exposed to soul-chilling tremolo riffs and hateful vocals that threaten to pull you into into a world of nightmarish suffering. As you march closer and closer toward the realm of death, a bitter coldness comes over you, yet you are compelled to move forward, drawn on to your own doom. This is the power of the music on The Evil Rules.
While a lot of bands of this time period were merely taking their cues from the Norwegian bands, Moonblood clearly had roots that went much deeper and one can hear the old Bathory influence in many places, as well as bits and pieces of the German band Poison. In the days when some things are placed on a pedestal for the simple fact of being obscure and rare and nothing more, it is easy to forget that some bands of this ilk were actually special, regardless of the high prices that their releases go for these days. For once, there is an actual reason for the respect shown to such musicians. For those younger fans that have not been exposed to the true darkness that is Moonblood, put away your toys; i.e. worthless releases from the likes of Nargaroth, Shining, Satanic Warmaster and other trendy poser bands. This is the genuine article. Push yourself to experience the difference.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com