01. Horrible Nights
02. The Bleeding Years
03. Dark Lady
04. Dreams From The Depths
05. The Coral Of Chaos
06. I Saw Them That Night
[Rise Above/Metal Blade]
When you’ve hit the subterranean rock bottom of funeral doom, where notes hold for tens of seconds and cymbals are left to shimmer until the very last sound drains away, where else is there to go in terms of sheer oppressive heaviness? Moss seem to have been left with this conundrum following the release of the widely praised Sub Templum a good five years ago. Since then the band have dabbled with smaller releases, wryly entitled EPs despite their extensive running time, but never quite found thier new direction or even matched the hopeless drone of Sub Templum. Horrible Night is the new beginning that the band have been aiming for — a sleazy back-alley crawl down Sabbath road and onto Electric Wizard lane.
Immediately (well, as immediate as a doom record can be), you’re presented with the most obvious change brought by Horrible Night — the vocals. Olly Pearson now also invokes the gritty cleans of Ozzy Osbourne as well as performing some of the most tortured screeches around, which some may find jarring given Moss’ past, but as you move through the album it’s obvious this switch was a stroke of genius. Before, vocals were another instrument designed solely to drag out notes and add another layer to their wall-of-sound approach, but now they’re are a component that stands at the forefront of it all, turning the once snail-pace tectonic shift into a psychedelic, hazy occult ritual.
Despite all this talk of progression and movement, at the heart of it, the core elements are still present here. ‘Horrible Nights‘ begins and abuses a plethora of sickeningly drawn out and heavy riffs that firmly impose themselves upon you and continue to do so in that fashion for a good eleven minutes. Not for the faint of heart, clearly, but there’s an underlying mesmerizing tone to it all that’s only really possible with droning doom that’s done well. So, it’s even more surprising that Moss manage to repeat this success three more times in the main centre pieces of the album; ‘Dark Lady‘, ‘The Coral Of Chaos‘ and acid-drenched closer ‘I Saw Them That Night‘.
The main issue with Horrible Night is probably the same issue faced any doom band that likes to hold riffs right up to the expiration date — one man’s hypnotic and alluring will be another man’s dull and boring. Horrible Night doesn’t do anything to avoid this scenario, to do so would compromise a lot of the integrity of the sound, and so naysayers of the style will find little to no comfort here. In the grand scheme of things, the band aren’t afraid to push it, but for the most part they appease the attention span of someone who is well versed in the world of Ahab, Esoteric et alii.
Moss have taken a huge step forward here so it’s only natural there’s a little wavering as they move from the dank, dark underground to the candle-lit black mass, but still this three-piece manage once again to prove why they’re an integral axiom within funeral doom and manage to make a horrifically pleasing racket doing it.