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In August 1995, Moonblood unleashed yet another collection of grim and archaic black metal songs. Rehearsal 4 holds the distinction of being one of the more difficult recordings to come across, at least in its entirely. It is also somewhat unique in that at least a few of these tracks ended up being recorded in the studio for various official releases, rather than all of them being forgotten.
The sound quality seems to vary a little, throughout the rehearsal. This may come down to being a matter of style, as certain types of riffs have a better potential for allowing the guitar to be heard in more of a clear manner. The more high-pitched tremolo melodies are the only ones to really rise up from the murkiness of the overall sound. As well, the vocals are very audible. The other elements are not terribly buried, but the sound is still pretty rough and underproduced. Of course, this kind of raw approach suits the music well. Over all, Rehearsal 4 has one of the better sounds of the early tapes and should not be difficult to listen to and to absorb.
Musically, this recording is filled with many great and memorable riffs. There is a decent amount of faster material on here, with many haunting and obscure tremolo melodies that bring on a very cold and dark feeling, as the vocals spew pure hatred and an extremely inhuman sound. Perhaps, Gaamalzagoth was human once, but by this point his humanity has left him long ago. As with much of Moonblood's work, there is a strong connection with death, emphasized by the sombre riffs and even the lyrics of "The Raven", as the final lines implore this symbol of death, "take me with you". However, it is not eternal rest that is being sought, but the immortality of the world beyond and the final transcendence of this mundane world. The frozen and melancholic melodies of "Hordes of Hate" are even more poignant here than on the later version that appeared on the split with Asakku. The more raw and cold sound allows for this to permeate your soul in a more severe way, carving into the very depths of your essence. Herein lies one of the main differences between the material on this rehearsal and some of the others; there is a shift in the mood and tone as a mournful atmosphere replaces the more eerie and unnerving feeling that was often present before.
As has been said before, one need not ignore this band's demos and rehearsals, assuming that they are merely filled with throwaway songs that deserve no attention. The fact that only a few of these tracks were later recorded in a proper manner should not reflect on the quality of the rest. One might take this to mean that those songs were somehow superior to the rest, but this is not necessarily true. The brilliant riffs found on "The Raven" and "The Eyes of the Forest" is proof that Moonblood's songwriting skills were top notch when preparing this material. It is very regretful that they did not have the desire or opportunity to enter the studio and to record all of these to full-length albums over the years. Regardless, as with all other Moonblood releases, this is essential and should be heard. Instead of spending all of your money on countless CD and vinyl variants of lame Satanic Warmaster albums, invest a little time into listening to true and pure black metal.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com