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Moss > Cthonic Rites > Reviews > Noktorn
Moss - Cthonic Rites

not extreme doom again, fuck - 25%

Noktorn, December 31st, 2010

It's really hard to believe that at one point this shit was novel, but it's true! No, for real, there was a time in the history of extreme metal where extreme doom like this was something new and fascinating, and a lot of people were convinced it was going to be the future of funeral doom and would change the genre as we know it. Of course it petered out into a repetitive mess of self-parody and scene incest, but for a moment it looked like it would be something, and Moss was near the top of the heap, just under compatriots like Wormphlegm and Bunkur in importance. And yes, it's pretty bad.

It should be immediately apparent to anyone familiar with my reviews that I'm not afraid of bleak, oppressive, impossibly slow, mostly tuneless music- I dig Wormphlegm and Monarch and other members of the same 'hit a chord and growl' scene. Moss, however, rides much more heavily on the idea of their music than the content itself. The track listing of 'Cthonic Rites' should tell the whole story: two tracks, 66 minutes and 6 seconds long (for added spookiness). Riffs: one, I guess? Maybe another I didn't notice? Sum of musical ideas? Zero, most definitely.

Moss plods along, excruciatingly slowly, smashing out the same handful of slow death metal riffs over the course of a pair of inordinately long tracks while drums very slowly play rock beats underneath them and Olly Pearson screams his lungs out. Now here's a quick question for those at home keeping score: how many other bands from the extreme doom scene could you use the previous line to describe and it would still be completely accurate? More than a few, and this is problematic because Moss, like many similar bands, does nothing to differentiate themselves from the pack. Rigor Sardonicus has its weird production quality, Black Bile has its more ambient and atmospheric take on the genre, even Paganus has its perplexing sense of rhythm, but Moss has none of those. The album just sits in place.

A lot of people talk about the atmosphere that Moss cultivates, but I notice a total absence of any sort of atmosphere that couldn't be generated by anyone else mimicking the same style. There is atmosphere, but the atmosphere is that of 'atmosphere', that same one that we've heard a thousand times before that owes itself to ringing feedback, screaming, and excessive distortion. There's no particular songwriting to notice; all the riffs feature three or four chords, hanging in full note configurations over unchanging drum beats, and even the tortured vocals seem tortured in a remarkably generic and unsatisfying way.

Beyond that, is there a difference between the two tracks? I'd be hard pressed to spot one, as they appear to use the same basic melodies and structure (then again, identifying a structure in music this slow and aimless is something of a fool's errand), so what was the purpose of splitting them up? Moreover, what's the purpose of putting them on CD when a description of the music tells you absolutely everything you need to know about it? There's just nothing here, no particular content, no idea being advanced, nothing but the same rehashing of extreme doom tropes that were played out ten minutes after they were initially invented.

I guess the nail in the coffin is that this particular style of extreme doom is something that all the other extreme doom bands gave up. Most of the extreme doom bands played this sort of incredibly droning endurance test doom on their first demo but rapidly split into other directions with more distinct styles; basically the only other one still doing this is Monarch, who are superior because they have more textural exploration and variation between tracks than Moss, so where does this leave the British collective? No where, really, but to gather dust in the cutout bin with Funeralium and fifty Comaworx-affiliated projects that never got off the ground.

I'm sure that many of you will find the above descriptions simply wonderful and will eagerly seek out this disc as a result, but I assure you that when Moss does it, it's just excruciatingly boring and lacking in creativity. It's hard to get through due to length and impracticality, not because it's so extreme. I haven't heard anything from these guys after this album; maybe they picked up a new style on the following full-length, but I doubt it. Even if you absolutely love the extreme doom scene from the mid-'00s, I'd still recommend you avoid this one; it offers nothing but disappointment.