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The Evil Rules - 87%

Noctir, May 3rd, 2013

Rehearsal 2 - The Evil Rules is another Moonblood recording from 1994, recorded around the same period as My Evil Soul and Nosferatu. As with most of their rehearsals, this tape contains nearly an hour of material, most of it simple forgotten and unused for later recordings. So, for that reason alone, this is essential for fans of this band, since this music is unavailable in other forms. A couple of the riffs are clearly used later on but, for the most part, these songs are unique to this cassette.

One of the most important things to consider when approaching a Moonblood tape is the overall listenability. This time around, things are even muddier and more difficult to follow than on the preceding rehearsal. In particular, the percussion is too loud and becomes an indecipherable rumbling during the faster parts. The guitars possess a good tone that allows the melodies to sort of cut their way through the thunderous drums and to pierce your spirit deeply. Of course, as always, the grim and raspy vocals stand out from the rest as well. So, while this may require a little more attention than even the last recording, this can still be appreciated by those who will put forth the effort and concentration to do so.

For those that are not turned away by the raw and primitive sound, there are countless guitar melodies that will utterly haunt you until your final days, encircling you within the purest darkness and cold. Though the medieval intro (no doubt taken from a movie or something) may seem a little out of place, the actual compositions are brilliant. The eerie nature of the guitars is unquestionable and somewhat disturbing. From the otherworldly melodies to the truly black and unsettling tone, these riffs embody the true essence of black metal; i.e. something that is dark and somewhat frightening, yet still somehow attractive. This type of music should not be fun or easily accepted and treated as simple entertainment. Moonblood understood this and there is still the primal and dangerous feeling attached to their music that so few managed to maintain. There is an epic nature to the main riffs in songs like "The Evil Rules" as well as "And Then I Died", which is not limited to slower or more mid-paced sections. One need not sacrifice speed in order to create something epic and memorable, so long as the songwriting talent is there. Some of the songs are reminiscent of the likes of Mayhem or Darkthrone, yet with their own identity and feeling. This is how one properly takes inspiration from another; to operate within a similar style and framework, while still doing something rather unique and worthwhile. Just listening to the opening moments of "Infernal Screams in a Dark Night", one is exposed to soul-chilling tremolo riffs and hateful vocals that threaten to pull you into into a world of nightmarish suffering. As you march closer and closer toward the realm of death, a bitter coldness comes over you, yet you are compelled to move forward, drawn on to your own doom. This is the power of the music on The Evil Rules.

While a lot of bands of this time period were merely taking their cues from the Norwegian bands, Moonblood clearly had roots that went much deeper and one can hear the old Bathory influence in many places, as well as bits and pieces of the German band Poison. In the days when some things are placed on a pedestal for the simple fact of being obscure and rare and nothing more, it is easy to forget that some bands of this ilk were actually special, regardless of the high prices that their releases go for these days. For once, there is an actual reason for the respect shown to such musicians. For those younger fans that have not been exposed to the true darkness that is Moonblood, put away your toys; i.e. worthless releases from the likes of Nargaroth, Shining, Satanic Warmaster and other trendy poser bands. This is the genuine article. Push yourself to experience the difference.

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Even I can't stand this - 30%

SupremeAbstract, November 21st, 2007

This album could have been good. Very good. But it’s not, and you know why? The production is HORRIBLE. No, Moonblood aren’t ever going to be cited as a band with great production. Yes, all of the bands in Les Legions Noires have horrible production and I’ve heard them all. Anything Belketre, Vlad Tepes, even Brenoritvrezorkre ever created is MILES ahead of this album in terms of production. The only thing I can think of that even comes close to having such shitty production as this would be Sort Vokter’s highly overrated ‘Folkloric Necro Metal,’ but my reasons for hating that album are completely different.

Having some experience with home recording myself, I shall attempt to explain a few of the reasons (besides the obvious fact that they wanted it to sound like this) ‘The Evil Rules’ sounds so horrible. 1) When most bands record, they set up their system so that their microphones get as much sound as possible without overdriving them, creating distortion in the signal. When Moonblood recorded this album, they cranked the amps up to 11 and shoved the microphones half an inch from the grill. This is what makes it so loud, raw, and garbled. 2) Once they recorded the wall of distortion we now know as the “songs“, they mixed it together in such a way nothing stands out. You can’t tell if he is blasting away on the drums or just sitting there while the wall of guitar noise blares in your face. And yes, it is noise. I’ve listened to this album quite a few times and I still have trouble telling the riffs apart. 3) The overall volume of the songs isn’t even the same. Some songs are so loud you have to turn it down, but when it gets to the next song you have to crank it up again. And finally…. 4) It’s on tape. Need I say more? And it sounds like the tape was left outside in the sun for three weeks. Overexposed and sunburned.

However, if you listen very hard to the noise coming out of your speakers, you will notice that there is actual music on this cassette (or, more likely, mp3, seeing the rarity of this release). The songs are very much in the Moonblood style; Epic, medieval, and primitive. The most memorable part of this release would have to be during the song “Triangle of Infernal Power”, when the song breaks, the wind blows, and the most evil sounding voice I have ever heard comes in. This literally frightened me the first time I heard it. But you can’t really hear anything else specifically on this album. The production just makes it too bad to listen to. And that really is a shame, seeing as everything following this release is great.

In conclusion, go listen to ‘The Winter Falls Over the Land.’ It has horrible production (which is still infinitely better than this), and is only half as long, but is one of the greatest black metal albums I have heard. This just sounds like a sack of pennies being hit against a door.

The Production Amazes Me - 50%

Vega360, May 7th, 2007

Moonblood have become one of the several black metal cult bands nowadays; mostly because of their underground fame. Never actually putting out any material on CD and going to various extremes to limit their releases, so they are damn near impossible to find. The bulk of their discography is made up of several rehearsal tapes. I happen to actually find a cassette for sale online someplace, so I bought it and decided to experience one of the most famous underground black metal acts.

There sound is straight forward Bathory worship, specifically “Under the Sign oft the Black Mark” era. However, they take the elements Quorthon spawned out and added their own mix to it, keyboards and epic guitar riffs and the traditional nails on a chalkboard rasp vocals. The sound actually seems like any black metal fans dream come true. However, the production is downright awful. The entire sound is dampened and muffled to the point where you get two parts vocals and everything else. However, unlike most metal releases, everything else just sounds like one big sound wall so telling what’s what is just about impossible.

The album starts out fine; actually sets a nice mood. Melodic keyboard intro which sets a somber atmosphere, then it moves into the first song which isn’t too bad. This gave me the impression of the entire demo being the metal equivalent of a black and white movie. However, this format almost never changes (until the track shadows which ill rant about later and the outro) so you get about an hour of some of the most horribly produced black metal in the history of time. Which eventually gets boring, so the entire release grinds you down, seeing as the production ruins any atmosphere they're trying to set, other than a suffocating, enclosing, airless compression.

I think I heard one bass line on this entire demo. As just about any fan of a genre using a bass guitar could tell you, picking it out is almost impossible. Mostly because it’s the bass and it never changes; just adds weight to the bands sound. The production blob assimilates any bass parts it can find into the mass of muffled, masking wall it’s constructing, so the bass parts additional weight is totally lost leaving everything sounding muddy and almost dare I say it flat.

The guitars suffer a similar fate, but I think this was planned to be this way. You don’t hear anything that sounds like a riff until about track seven, if you even still awake by then. So without bass or guitar work being separate and just one giant sound mass begs one to ponder the question, does this band have any playing skill at all?

Drums: ugh, this is disastrous. My favorite element of metal music also becomes one with the other elements. You get no pacing at all, if there is blast beats there lost, if you get any kick, snare, cymbal or anything for that matter it’s lost. I could hear guitars now and again, but the drumming is almost non-existent.

The vocals are about the only normal sounding element on here. You get the standard raise the dead black metal shriek and...well that’s it. The majority of my favorite black metal bands have some elements to the vocal work that stands out, either immense pain, comprehensible yet still evil, however, these vocals lack this. Lyric-wise I think he actually just says the same thing over and over for the majority of the time. Of course, a lot of the lyrics themselves are repetitive; all I know is the overall theme is something satanic.

The albums keyboard work stands out. They never say what instruments were used, but I swear I can hear them using keyboard melodies. Now, mind you, I’m not one of the anti-keyboardist black metal fans, but I do mind them to be used atmospherically and with some taste. The track “Shadows” has one very long ambient/keyboard intro, huge wind and howls which is fine but the industrial elements they added in, annoyed the piss out of me. I think I even herd turntables once! I know bands like to use ambience to make a spooky atmosphere, but the elements being used this late sound as if the band is getting desperate.

I can see a lot of elements to other famous black metal bands sound in this but nothing more. The production down right kills this demo. I can handle some bad production, but this way past my limit. I know the Moonblood cult probably worships this and sees something more in it, but I guess I still like some structure to music and see sound as being an important influence.