By Nathanas Trismegistus
Empire of the Moon – “Έκλειψις” (translated as “Eclipse”); released January 10, 2019 by Iron Bonehead Productions. I mean, did you really expect anyone else? Not even two weeks into the year and Iron Bonehead has published two albums on the same day (incidentally, both from Greek bands). I’m not a big Kawir fan, so I decided to forego reviewing their latest release in favor of the more obscure Empire of the Moon’s.
Empire of the Moon is a real throwback, in the best way possible, to classic Hellenic black metal bands like Varathron and Necromantia. They released a single, two-track demo, all the way back in 1997. And, for seventeen years, this band lied dormant. Producing absolutely nothing in the way of musical material. After this protracted stint of, no doubt, pensive silence, they unleashed a debut album, in 2014, which I don’t think anyone really even listened to (because I never hear anyone talk about it). It was really good, though. And if you haven’t listened to it, then I don’t know what you’re waiting for. An invitation? With this new album, Empire of the Moon continue the trend – started with “Πανσέληνος” (translated as “Full Moon”) – of naming their albums after lunar phenomena. It also functions as a proper successor and complement to the musical themes and styles set up thereby.
The vocals are shrill and acute, barring any chanted or dictated passages. Despite being a Greek band, and their album titles being in Greek, the song titles and lyrics themselves are in English and Latin—for some reason. Though the lyrics are of an esoteric nature, they are not an occult black metal band like Acherontas or Akrotheism. The riff-craft and composition are mid-paced, but sufficiently aggressive. Melody is present, but simple and interspliced or interplayed with beefy, chuggy rhythm. There is a sort of rocky feel throughout this album – especially in track 4 – which reminds me a lot of Dissection’s “Reinkaos”. Unlike the vast majority of black metal bands of the Scandinavian persuasion, Greek bands (and Empire of the Moon by extension) aren’t afraid to indulge in a little bit of lavish lead work and glib, genial guitar tone. There are some occasional symphonic and choral elements (which, if you’re familiar at all with my work, you know I generally find such elements to be annoying) scattered throughout, but they’re so infrequent and unobtrusive that they’re perfectly tolerable. If I had to think of an analogy to encapsulate Empire of the Moon’s musical style, I would describe it as a trance-like, euphoric, continuously rhythmic curbstomp against the steps of the Parthenon at dusk.
“Έκλειψις” is a black, hedonistic orgy of blasphemy, blood witchery, and murder. It starts strong and ends even stronger. Sink into some ambrosia or baklava, queue it up directly after “Πανσέληνος”, and let your spirit disembark on an 80-minute, noumenal odyssey through the underworld along the rapids of the river Phlegethon. Highly recommended. Essential for the true disciple of classic Hellenic black metal.