Empire Of The Moon – Εκλειψις Review

Empire of the Moon is a Hellenic black metal band that was formed in the 90s. Empire of the Moon is a Hellenic black metal band that sounds like it was formed in the 90s, despite their first full length not being delivered until 2014. However, Empire of the Moon doesn’t just sound like other black metal from Greece, but also pulls from what was happening in Norway and Sweden at the time (and to a lesser extent, also the Czech Republic). In that way, they have arrived at a kind of minor black metal fusion.

Release date: January 10, 2020. Label: Iron Bonehead Productions.
Most importantly, Empire of the Moon is more than capable of handling the slight blend on sophomore record Εκλειψις. (Review materials say that this translates to “eclipse,” but Google translates it to “you’re gone,” and who am I to doubt the Cylons programming the Google Babel Fish?) Taken as a series of individual sections, the record doesn’t offer much new, but each song has a great sense of flow, and the album as a whole has a moderate breadth to it. This latter quality is undoubtedly helped by pulling from more than one blackened source, and the fact that the record stops just short of the 40-minute mark.

Four of the album’s six proper songs are part of a series called “Per Aspera Ad Lunae,” although it can’t be called a proper suite because 1. The’re all standalone songs on their own, and 2. Parts three and four are split up by “Devi Maha Devi.” Putting four tracks as a conceptual whole does, however, somewhat emphasize the band’s broader ambition. More important is how well these four songs show off the band’s stylistic range while giving the record just enough of an arc.

The first part, “The Resonance Within,” begins basically in Scandinavian hyperblast mode with fluttering chord progressions played over intense blasts. Even when it isn’t outright blasting, it maintains a very downbeat focus on the snare (something done throughout with great benefit to the album’s forward drive). Later, it takes on more of a waltzy, anguished meloblack feel à la Dissection, minus any neoclassical vibes, before getting extra epic with some choir vocals. This “epic” feel is expanded in part two, “Two Queens Appear,” which ups the riffy bombast with some very overt Rotting Christ worship and a very Bathory-ish solo section. Parts three and four – and really, all tracks on the record – basically just draw from these same wells, sometimes getting a little moodier, sometimes adding some synths, sometimes with a bit more driving, and sometimes upping the desperate intensity and metal thunder with a big finish in mind, as on album and “Per Aspera Ad Lunae” finale “Son of Fire.”

Εκλειψις has just enough dynamics, just enough theatricality, and just enough of a unique personality to make those obvious influences seem pretty fresh. Empire of the Moon has a veteran’s understanding of several blackened forms, so even if they’ve barely been releasing music since their formation in the 90s, they’ve clearly been paying attention.

Posted by Zach Duvall

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Obnoxious overuser of baseball metaphors.

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