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Hellmoon > Undying Blackened Glory > Reviews
Hellmoon - Undying Blackened Glory

Lunar Summoning - 90%

Nattskog7, July 22nd, 2022
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Independent (Limited edition, Digipak)

Hellmoon is a new entity forged by Plaag who is also known from Nocturnal Departure. This is his debut album as Hellmoon.

Haunting synths set in with a magnificent and mystical ambience, truly a chilling way to set off some raw black metal. A classic “ough” and howling vocals over piercing riffs and crashing cymbals drives forth a raw and melancholic black metal onslaught akin to the classic French scene. Melody is found within the cascading riffs and pounding drums, giving a perfectly sombre and catchy backdrop to the varied and reverberate vocals. Hammering on, blastbeats quickly ensue with more savage riffs that dance with upbeat melodies in a way that resembles Sargeist. It is clear from very early on that this is very traditional and memorable black metal with a fierceness in the raw murk that will certainly earn the respect of seasoned maniacs.

Sheer aggression is utilised to its full extent on this record while we see some juxtaposing emotional complexity that is rewarding to witness, showing maturity and a well-rounded approach to songwriting. Further Finnish black metal influence can be heard in some very Satanic Warmaster inspired guitar work over relentless drums. Truly a chilling and spectral sound that is unfathomably atmospheric. Tortured and visceral vocals continue to screech over the howling abyssal instrumentals to create a hypnotising conjuration of the macabre old school black metal flames, which burn with strength for Hellmoon. Everything about this release feels superbly put together and vibrantly passionate with full respect held for the old ways of black metal.

Punching in at little over 20 minutes, this is a rather short album. This actually does it a few favours as the riffs and drums change up plentifully to never stagnate, offering a concise yet expansively diverse performance. Nothing feels rushed nor overly progressive, simply hitting with banger after banger of melancholic, aggressive and blisteringly harsh Black Metal. It is rather interesting to see a raw black metal band who doesn’t follow the stylistic depravity of Black Cilice and Pa Vesh En, this being far more likened to French and Finnish black metal as I mentioned. With this being said, the reverb-drenched and otherworldly soundscapes certainly give it that impeccably raw and visceral feeling.

Not only is this a fantastic debut album, but actually something a bit different for the raw black metal scene to be absorbed by. Emotionally complex, musically furious and packed with disturbing yet mesmerising atmospherics, Hellmoon is a project that definitely deserves the underground respect they demand with this scathing debut.

Written for

Great debut with otherworldly soundscapes of pain, torment, aggression - 88%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 8th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Chasm of Old Necromancy

As black metal band or project names go, "Hellmoon" looks so obviously and straightforwardly occult and evil, the wonder is that no-one thought of using it first before Winnipeg-based musician Plaag (of Nocturnal Departure) gave the name to his solo raw occult-themed BM project. "Undying Blackened Glory" is Hellmoon's debut album, short at 21 minutes but long on aggression and savagery that mask pain, isolation and alienation, and a deep sadness.

After an ambient synth instrumental introduction, Plaag lets rip with severely scourging music, harking back to 1990s-era lo-fi second wave BM and huge on a cold and harsh ambience from which rough-edged voices emerge and later fall back into. Guitars, bass and percussion are presented very minimally and the guitar sound can be thin, all the better to highlight Plaag's multi-tracked voices that chant, harangue and spit bile rather than sing. At first the short songs don't sound very different from one another - but after a few spins, distinct melodies and riff loops, and varied percussion rhythms make themselves felt. Some of the melodies and riff loops give their respective songs an almost catchy, pop-friendly feel.

The songs don't hang around for long for the music to become truly immersive, and this can work against them as they speed by and often end abruptly before they etch themselves deep into listeners' subconscious minds. Songs usually rely on fast-paced blast-beat percussion power, a variety of rhythms and beats, and the screeching vocals to distinguish them from each other. The vocals are usually very shrieky, all the more so for being drenched in reverb, but Plaag's range also extends deep into reptile swamp-monster territory. The aggression, the violence and the savagery on songs like the title track have to be heard and felt deep until your blood goes cold and curdles. The very rawness of the emotions expressed, to the point where the vocal gymnastics almost seem excessive in their histrionics, on otherwise technically minimalist songs give the album a strong French black metal feel. Best tracks are the title track for its sheer power and aggression, "My Melancholy Soul" for the emotion and pain in Plaag's rants, "Evil Omens and Cursed Visions" for the little technical details (cymbals work, varied rhythms) and "Where the Night is Eternal" which, in contrast to the rest of the album, is a slow burner steeped in bleakness, lack of hope and resignation.

The entire album has an otherworldly feel, its soundscapes set deep down in a black cavernous labyrinth where voices reverberate and become ever more deranged, angry and despairing. While individual tracks can take a while and a few hearings to make an impact, the creepy coldness and the black ambience behind the minimalist music bring a real raw and physical quality to the depression and anguish in the songs. Often the music can be confronting in its sharp rawness and the vocals can be very disturbing and distressing.

Hellmoon is surely an act to keep a watch for in the future, with a style of raw black metal that combines aggression and sad melancholy all at once.