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Moon of the Chaos Eclipse was conceived as an EP, with the band liking the six songs recorded so much they decided to pad them out into a full-length album. This possibly explains the record being released within a year of Requiem of the Apocalypse.
While there are only seven tracks if you lose the instrumentals and an alternate version of 'On Chariots to Hades', what there is slays. 'Dark Deeds of Temptation' is a slow act of violence, chugging along with meticulous brutality before breaking into ululating guitar leads that tread the line between bleakly morose and plain evil-sounding. The chewy heaviness of Darkness Death Doom isn't quite there yet, although the thick, wavering guitar tones and predominant, fills-abundant drums are certainly taking the sound in the right direction. Emma's bass isn't quite so all-consuming either, and there is a feeling of it all being a test run for future full-lengths. A mighty impressive one however; most death metal bands struggle to come up with something as crushing as 'Grand Sabbath Pact' to lead off a properly planned album, never mind an EP that got ideas above its station. Meanwhile 'Upon the Red Thrones' is sheer, brilliant shizophrenia, bounding between urgent chugging, squealing guitar breaks and tremolo-laced double bass bursts.
The album does retain something of a disjointed feel, and the large number of instrumentals during the second half make MotCE feel somewhat bloated. The flipside is that the shapeless, atmospheric drone of the title track and 'Hymn to the Northern Fire' gave the band a chance to experiment with the ambient soundscapes they would employ on future releases. Along with the belligerent doom sounds explored on 'Revolution of the Dead' and on Requiem of the Apocalypse, the blueprint for not only Darkness Death Doom, but also Envenom and subsequent albums was already forming. The ethnically influenced drumbeats of 'Nocturnal Shrine' are a shadow of the Oriental melodies that would crop up from time to time in the future.
Although the initial idea was just to record an EP, the nature of Nicklas and Emma's partnership (they also live as a couple) allows ideas to be spontaneously demoed and recorded. The unexpected use of female vocals on 'Witch of the Purple Moon' for example, evidences the experimental mood in the Rudolfsson studio at the time, as do the programmed drums, menacing chants and black metal riffs of the title track. Think of this album as more of a loose collection of ideas than the cohesive albums the band is usually responsible for. The off-the-cuff attitude of Runemagick's recording process worked against them a little here in terms of symmetry, and the best tracks all originate from the original EP's tracklist, but this contains some fine, gloomy death metal amongst the (still quite enjoyable) chaff nonetheless. Cut back down to EP length rather than more than an hour, no complaints.
As you can see, I have a hard time criticizing this band. Not an easy task while 'Upon the Red Thrones' is playing in the background, I must admit.