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March 1995 saw the recording of yet another Moonblood rehearsal tape. Frozen Tears of a Vampire came right after Nosferatu and The Winter Falls Over the Land. Oddly, the latter had a sound that was rather unique within the band's vast catalogue of recordings, one that was not utilized again. Here, on their third rehearsal demo, the band went back to the thinner and harsher sound that characterized their previous outings.
After a rather laid back and somewhat less-inspired opening track, "A Soul of Shining Steel" grips the listener with its icy cold claws of death. It is strange, looking back, how the strongest tracks from each demo and rehearsal were left to dwell in obscurity, while lesser songs were later used for the band's proper full-lengths. The aforementioned song features the same kind of eerie and distant guitar melodies that remove you from the present age and take you back in time, to a place more barbaric and cruel, yet more in tune with the way that things should be. These riffs speak in a way that words could never hope to, reconnecting you to what once existed long ago, before the false ones shaped this civilization to suit their corrupt needs. As with most of their releases, the songwriting is dynamic and not at all one dimensional, unlike many other so-called black metal bands of the era. While the song structures feature various tempos throughout the cassette, the ethereal tremolo melodies are where Occulta Mors really shines. The mid-paced sections add to the epic feeling, but this is already well established even with the faster riffs. The two are combined within the title track, as the slower riffs are accompanied by a tremolo-picked melody that adds a sombre effect. The vocals, as always, are purely hateful and inhuman. Gaamalzagoth's raspy voice is somewhat grating and certainly lends an increased sense of grimness. The band even pulls off the addition of acoustic passages and memorable solos, somewhat merging different periods of Bathory influences to create something steeped in dark majesty. While the Darkthrone influence cannot be denied, Moonblood possessed a very unique sense of melody that no one else ever came close to. Even during the more minimal parts, where the band takes on a very straightforward and fast-paced approach in the vein of Transilvanian Hunger, their riffs are purely their own and it is nearly impossible to confuse them with another band. The ominous and dreadful feeling conveyed by the guitars in songs like "The Message of Evil" and "Lightnings Over the Burning Church" conjures the sort of darkness that most were unable or unwilling to get near. Most black metal bands of today would cower in fear if ever confronted by the shadowy forces that inspired such an abysmal and unsettling song as "The Black Emperor", which may be the highlight of this tape. It is too bad that they were never able to get this kind of tone for any of their splits or full-lengths.
Overall, the sound may be even more lousy than on the previous rehearsal, possessing the same kind of high-pitched noise throughout that plagued my copy of Nosferatu. This is rather irritating, but it can be ignored after a while. However, with this and the loud hissing, as well as the raw and necro recording job, it is certainly accurate to say that this is a very lo-fi affair. The instruments sound quite distant, most of the time. The drumming is kind of difficult to pick up on, at times, though the guitars have more success in cutting through the dismal fog and often lull you into a trancelike state. Despite the limitations in production quality, the material is powerful enough to draw you in and keep your attention.
Frozen Tears of a Vampire is cold and hateful and somewhat mournful as well. The sound is nearly as lo-fi as you can get while still being listenable. With that said, this is definitely an essential release and just one more piece of evidence for why Moonblood deserves more recognition than they have gotten over the years. This is not necessarily the ideal starting point for someone new to the band; the official releases would be better suited for that. However, once you have cut your teeth on those, there is still a wealth of important material to discover from this band. This rehearsal tape is certainly included. Not only was Moonblood the most elite band to ever come from Germany, they were markedly unique within the history of black metal as a whole.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Like most German underground black metal bands (and most underground black metal bands for that matter), quality of the music means literally nothing. Moonblood make no exception to that, releasing one rehearsal after the other. The quality of the respective rehearsals differs extremely, ranging from mediocre and listenable to extremely annoying. Frozen tears of a vampire is one of the better ones, which can actually be quite enjoyable, even to an individual, who hasn't devoted his life to garbage can music.
The positive side on this one is that the different parts of the drums are actually distinct and audible, which is nor a trivial matter in such groups. Most of the material released is incredibly flawed concerning the drum work, but this is one of the exceptions (regarding the rehearsals, as the full-lengths are easily audible). After a few spins, the ear becomes trained and the production shouldn't pain most black metal fans, who enjoy their black metal raw. At times, the guitar work even becomes rather heavy, making it difficult to recall that you are listening to a rehearsal. An underline to the structure is also the present bass on "Frozen Tears..", as again, on most releases, the bass is non-existent. Sadly, the quality of the songs, i.e. on "Moonstruck - Moonblood Pt.II", begins to drastically reduce itself, so that the façade renders to hollowness. The songs themselves are executed brilliantly and are very original in the writing, sounding very unique. They certainly have their own tone to it and don't rip off, like most "raw underground acts", making their cult status legitimate. Vocals are, as hinted in the review title, very "shriek"-oriented (gorging directly from the upper part of the throat, for the vocals technicians out there). This also contributes to the part, that the vocals can also be perceived as being very comical at parts, as they are not very powerful, but still, decent.
While this may not be the pinnacle of their "cultness", if you would tinker with the idea of getting any rehearsal from them, stick to this one or the nr. II and X, as they are the better ones.
One thing you will notice at first when listening to this album is the production quality, its bad really bad, below darkthrone standards, but it does make a good atmosphere.You may have already heard the first song, Blut & Krieg. Which as you probably already know is a great piece of black metal, but this version is even worse on the production quality. The second track souls in shinning steel is simply another great piece of black metal, the third track Frozen tears of a Vampire slows it down a bit, near the end of the track the lyrics seem to start sounding quite clearer, The whole track is chilling. the next track, Moonstruck meets the standards of the first three tracks. The last for tracks however are a bit weaker but are still good.