If you like your black metal raw, depressive, foreboding, and just a tad wacky, take a look at Moloch. Their 2014 release Verwustung dabbles in ambient music, but fear not!. Although the first and last tracks (besides the oddball inclusion of Chopin’s Funeral March as a hidden track) are ambient snore-fests, the six tracks sandwiched between them are well-executed black metal bangers that more than make up for whomever’s idea it was to sit on a keyboard and call it ambient music.
“Blutmond” rouses the listener awake immediately with dynamic tremolo riffs and double bass kicks that have more energy in three seconds than the entire intro. It’s clear right away that the production is raw, almost to the point of sounding homemade; but this sense of amateurish quality quickly fades as the music proceeds. This is the kind of production that’s bad in all the right places. It’s well suited to the music, as the muffled-sounding drums and distant guitars strategically trade in some of their ferocity for a captivating atmosphere that lends itself to the hypnotic rhythms and melodies of Verwustung. The overall sound is thick and full, seeming to enclose and entrap the listener within its murky walls.
Unlike many metal albums, rhythm is one of the strongest aspects of Verwustung. At times, the tremolo riffs will speed forward, and sometimes the drums will pound into oblivion; but almost never do the two instruments engage Ludicrous Speed at the same time. This, combined with the repetitive guitar leads, has a hypnotic effect on the listener. If you get lost in the weaving melodies, you’ll soon find yourself bobbing your head along to the slower rhythmic element, whether it happens to be the tremolo picking or the plodding double bass.
But mesmerizing rhythms aren’t worth a damn if there aren’t some rock-solid riffs to back them up. Fortunately, Moloch has them in spades. Many of the riffs in the album sound almost regal, as if their place in the song is their birthright. Although the standalone riffs could easily produce a decent black metal album on their own (listen to the opening of “Spiritueller Selbtsmord!”), Moloch has the prescience to use them properly. The guitar rarely upstages the drums with solos or petty technical machinations in the slow black waltz of Verwustung. Instead, the two instruments dance and weave with one another, alternately leading while the other follows.
Even the vocals on Verwustung are exceptionally well performed, which can be quite the accomplishment in the realm of Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. Some vocalists can manage screams of pure agony realistically – even with a hint of endearment in the pain (see: Nyktalgia). Other vocalists can devolve into unintentional self-parody, which negates much of the intended emotional effect from an album (see: Silencer). Fortunately, vocalist Sergiy Fjordsson provides texture and color to the music with a shrieking, shrill voice that sounds both tormented and intimidating.
So if contemplative, hypnotic low-fi black metal is up your alley, order now! Each copy comes with a free hidden track of Frederic Chopin’s famous dirge while supplies last!