Album Review: CRIMSON MOONLIGHT Divine Darkness
"Liturgical Black Metal of True Trinitarian Orthodoxy." That's the way the Sweden-based Crimson Moonlight define themselves on their Facebook page, which is essentially just a really metal way of saying they don't fit into the traditional black metal mold. Whereas most black metal bands stick to the anti-religious, blasphemous themes upon which the genre was founded, Crimson Moonlight is one of a handful of black metal bands who opted to use black metal as a basis for musical inspiration, but went the completely opposite direction thematically. Horde, Antestor, Frosthardr and Crimson Moonlight are but a few of the Christian black metal bands that emerged from the Scandinavia region in the '90s, right in the thick of the emerging black metal scene spearheaded by Mayhem, Darkthrone, Immortal and the like. While some "TRVE" metal elitists decry any and all black metal that contains Christian themes, they do so their at their own loss, because these bands can easily stand with the best of them.
Brief history lesson aside, Crimson Moonlight always stood out as one of the bands that could hold their own against the rest of the black metal legion. Their debut The Covenant Progress displayed a band that had clearly studied up on the qualities that make black metal such an intriguing and abrasive form of music, and their 2004 follow-up Veil of Remembrance became a classic of the genre, building upon their black metal template and mixing in some death metal. Now, 12 years later, Crimson Moonlight returns with their third full-length album, Divine Darkness, and though it doesn't quite reach the precedent set by Veil, it is every bit as worthy of praise and can stand on its own as an impressive piece of black metal.
Crimson Moonlight's lineup looks much different now than it did in 2004, with only two of its founding members performing on Divine Darkness. However, it would be difficult to know this based on the music alone, because the eight tracks of black metal fury contained within Divine Darkness do the band's past work justice. Vocalist Pilgrim opens the album with a harrowed scream on "The Dogma of Chalcedon," before leading the song into a frenzy of frantic riffs and blackened melodies. Guitarists Jonathan Jansson of Pantokrator and Perra weave blackened riffs and melodies in and out of each other like a scorched spider web, creating a suffocating atmosphere that at once grabs hold and doesn't let go. Drummer Gurra gives an inhuman performance behind the kit, driving each song along its tortured path with his hyperspeed blasts and double bass runs.
"The Suffering" continues to bring the mayhem, mayhem that remains constant through the entirety of Divine Darkness. Whether in the aural atmosphere of "Voistinu Voskrese" or the audio violence of pretty much every other track, every part of this album is raw, intense and visceral. The music found on Divine Darkness should appease any fan of blackened death metal (or deathened black metal), even it it does get a little tedious at times. Bottom line: if the sonic ferocity on Divine Darkness is indeed "Liturgical Black Metal of True Trinitarian Orthodoxy" is, then metal in general could definitely use more of it.