Since their first album, 2001’s Stronghold of the Inviolables, Secrets of the Moon has been a hard band to pin down. Despite having black metal be a central aspect of their sound, the band morphs, phasing easily from long, drawn out passages of doom metal back comfortably into strings of furious riffing over blast beats, creating interesting contrasts and allowing plenty of room for atmospheres to grow and morph. Saying the band has been famously hard to pin down is an understatement, and on Sun they successfully expand on this aspect, delivering an album that is wholly unique and constantly interesting.
When Sun begins, it starts quietly, a simple guitar melody free of effects with the occasional crash of a chord over top. However, this relative tranquility does not last long as the opening track, “No More Colours”, launches into a furious frenzy of blast beats and Dark Fortress-esque black metal riffing. The transition is seamless, a clean slide from one idea to the next that still feels connected and comfortable. SOTM does not simply throw the listener head first into a ravenous pit of fury, but uses their more mellow moments to subtly build into it, allowing it to feel organic and not so rigid. Unsurprisingly, when the track finally does settle down again near the end of the song, it does so in a way that once again feels like a natural continuation.
But why praise Secrets of the Moon for something that seems like such a given? If a band wants to get fancy and make wide sweeping, transitions through out their music, shouldn’t it be expected that they are at least decent at it? The answer to that second question is a yes, and the first is a valid point, but it is not so much the fact that SOTM does it, but the way in which they approach it. Sun is not the usual, lazy loud-to-quiet dynamic shift, nor is it the gradual, slow build up that has become oh-so popular since the rise of post metal. No, SOTM approaches their shifts in a wholly different light, layering them in as background elements to those already present, before steadily bringing them to the forefront. This talent for quality transitions is perhaps the best thing about the record and the band in general, as it is not jarring in a way that disrupts the over all flow of the song, but just enough so that it catches the listener’s attention and draws them in. It’s sort of like the difference between having some throw a bucket of ice water on you after a warm shower and allowing yourself to slowly readjust to the outside temperature.
On Sun, Secrets of the Moon does not introduce any large overhauls of their sound, but finds the ability to grow and flourish within parameters that they have been comfortably working in for close to 20 years now. The band is not afraid to push the boundaries of black metal, but they also acknowledge its core part in their sound, and utilize it properly to help create crushing sections in contrast with their more atmospheric, doom leaning passages. Sun perfectly shows how a band can stay true to their core sound and fan base while also still remaining constantly varied and distinguishable among plenty of new bands that are completely overhauling what it means to be a black metal band.
Secrets of the Moon – Sun gets…