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

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.