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Like dust on crowns... - 65%

Wilytank, April 5th, 2017

Germany's black metal scene is kinda nebulous. Besides the breakout atmospheric black metal acts of Lunar Aurora and Nagelfar as well as the depressive and doomy cult classic that is early Bethlehem, the country's scene lacks a coherent identity compared to the Scandinavian or LLN French scenes. However, those aforementioned bands have a very unique flair to them as do many of the other projects to emerge between the late 90s and 2000s in Germany. Secrets of the Moon definitely threw black metal for a loop with their proggy sophomore album Carved in Stigmata Wounds. Some of the unique features on this album are quite charming, but others aren't so much.

There's a mix of typical black metal riffs and not-so black metal riffs through out this album. You'll notice the swing between the two on the album's first real song "Cosmogenesis" whose strong opening riffs eventually give way to a more odd sounding verse riff. Other examples are more temporary such as the jazzy section at the start of "Psychoccult Hymn". More than anything, the weirdness of this albums comes from having songs that are structurally atypical for black metal. Most feature some really prolonged buildups and extended periods of slower paced music. The songs often have stop and go moments instead of more smooth transitions between riffs which at times does disrupt the momentum of the music more than is necessary. This weak point does make it hard to get through the album considering the uneven quality of the songs.

If you can get to the back half of the album though, the music starts to get more rewarding. It features two of the most straight forward tracks on the album: "Evolution Valour Admission" and "Epoch", the latter being easily the catchiest song on here. Besides these two, "Kaosthrone" is executed much better than the preceding tracks and the album's title track adds a very epic feel to close out the album.

Although the song execution is inconsistent, even the weaker tracks have moments of instrumental brilliance, especially on the bass guitar. The opening of "Cosmogenesis" has some really amazing bass work and overall this instrument is really given more attention here than the Secrets of the Moon albums to come.

Overall though, this album just tries too hard to be complex, and it's really too much for 75 minutes. It has moments of good music, a handful of wholly strong tracks are there, but it doesn't really stop this listen from being quite a chore.

A little over average - 70%

rpopescu, November 15th, 2012

"Carved in Stigmata Wounds" features competent playing, varied riffs (ranging from slow, doomy ones through death metal stuff to fast tremolo-picked black metal ones and good lead melodies), and even compelling atmosphere at times, but its main failing is in the structuring of these ingredients into memorable songs, which frankly happens only twice on the entire album. More than once the riffs, combined with military rhythms, remind of Marduk.

The failing of at least half of the tracks is that they're too progressive for their own good. They start off nicely enough with good riffs and melodies, but diverge into several sections that are mediocre at best, most of times ill-fitting with the rest, and each time ruining the atmosphere that's been conjured up so far. The incessant stopping and starting of songs in-between their 1 to 2 minute smaller parts within gets tiring after a while and is simply detrimental to the impact of the song as a whole.

There are some very good moments, notably on tracks 7 and 9 where the drumming is quite exceptional and the riffs and vocal performance come all together for something greater than the sum of the parts.

Verdict: certainly not a classic (let alone a cult one). If you're bored and looking for something new or are really into the band already, then give it a spin, otherwise you won't miss anything essential.