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The Production Amazes Me - 50%

Vega360, May 7th, 2007

Moonblood have become one of the several black metal cult bands nowadays; mostly because of their underground fame. Never actually putting out any material on CD and going to various extremes to limit their releases, so they are damn near impossible to find. The bulk of their discography is made up of several rehearsal tapes. I happen to actually find a cassette for sale online someplace, so I bought it and decided to experience one of the most famous underground black metal acts.

There sound is straight forward Bathory worship, specifically “Under the Sign oft the Black Mark” era. However, they take the elements Quorthon spawned out and added their own mix to it, keyboards and epic guitar riffs and the traditional nails on a chalkboard rasp vocals. The sound actually seems like any black metal fans dream come true. However, the production is downright awful. The entire sound is dampened and muffled to the point where you get two parts vocals and everything else. However, unlike most metal releases, everything else just sounds like one big sound wall so telling what’s what is just about impossible.

The album starts out fine; actually sets a nice mood. Melodic keyboard intro which sets a somber atmosphere, then it moves into the first song which isn’t too bad. This gave me the impression of the entire demo being the metal equivalent of a black and white movie. However, this format almost never changes (until the track shadows which ill rant about later and the outro) so you get about an hour of some of the most horribly produced black metal in the history of time. Which eventually gets boring, so the entire release grinds you down, seeing as the production ruins any atmosphere they're trying to set, other than a suffocating, enclosing, airless compression.

I think I heard one bass line on this entire demo. As just about any fan of a genre using a bass guitar could tell you, picking it out is almost impossible. Mostly because it’s the bass and it never changes; just adds weight to the bands sound. The production blob assimilates any bass parts it can find into the mass of muffled, masking wall it’s constructing, so the bass parts additional weight is totally lost leaving everything sounding muddy and almost dare I say it flat.

The guitars suffer a similar fate, but I think this was planned to be this way. You don’t hear anything that sounds like a riff until about track seven, if you even still awake by then. So without bass or guitar work being separate and just one giant sound mass begs one to ponder the question, does this band have any playing skill at all?

Drums: ugh, this is disastrous. My favorite element of metal music also becomes one with the other elements. You get no pacing at all, if there is blast beats there lost, if you get any kick, snare, cymbal or anything for that matter it’s lost. I could hear guitars now and again, but the drumming is almost non-existent.

The vocals are about the only normal sounding element on here. You get the standard raise the dead black metal shriek and...well that’s it. The majority of my favorite black metal bands have some elements to the vocal work that stands out, either immense pain, comprehensible yet still evil, however, these vocals lack this. Lyric-wise I think he actually just says the same thing over and over for the majority of the time. Of course, a lot of the lyrics themselves are repetitive; all I know is the overall theme is something satanic.

The albums keyboard work stands out. They never say what instruments were used, but I swear I can hear them using keyboard melodies. Now, mind you, I’m not one of the anti-keyboardist black metal fans, but I do mind them to be used atmospherically and with some taste. The track “Shadows” has one very long ambient/keyboard intro, huge wind and howls which is fine but the industrial elements they added in, annoyed the piss out of me. I think I even herd turntables once! I know bands like to use ambience to make a spooky atmosphere, but the elements being used this late sound as if the band is getting desperate.

I can see a lot of elements to other famous black metal bands sound in this but nothing more. The production down right kills this demo. I can handle some bad production, but this way past my limit. I know the Moonblood cult probably worships this and sees something more in it, but I guess I still like some structure to music and see sound as being an important influence.