Welcome, everyone, to what I believe is Episode 4 of ‘Drinking with Satan.’ I’ve been preparing for (and stocking up for) this particular evening for well over a week. And while I always look forward to taking some time out of my busy lifestyle to get swashbuckled on a varied assortment of indulgences on a work night, the inspiration for this month was lacking until about, oh, 10 hours ago. And then it all become as clear as the light of night.
A little background. I spend at least one night per week doing nothing but sitting around a fire, until well after midnight, sipping whiskey. And studying. Studying the void existence we call life. My girlfriend is sometimes with me (Satan bless her) and generally hates me for it. She says I tend to get maudlin when I drink too much whiskey. Apparently this past weekend I got aggressively judgmental of the human race. Maybe bizarre for her, just another night for me. After she said her piece, I simply thought, “too much whiskey isn’t enough whiskey.” …But let’s think about that term she dropped. Maudlin is an interesting word, and one we are all familiar with I’m sure. We’ve all been to the point of self-pitying, self-loathing, or embarrassingly sentimental during some drunken adventure in solitude. I seek these states of mind weekly. Some fear alcohol and their own drunkenness. I embrace it. It strips us of the mask we are forced to wear on a daily basis to appease society.
Anyway, fast-forward to today, Thursday, September 10th, 2015. Sitting at work, I get this message. “Hey, I just heard a song lyric that reminds me of you, it goes like this: ‘Me and the moon stayed up all night. I brought the whiskey, he brought the light.'” I do some research and discover that this is a song by Gaelic Storm called “Me and the Moon” and all of a sudden I had my inspiration. Don’t listen to the song, because it’s not on the same level as myself. Way too fucking happy. But in concept, this was it. This is what I needed. It’s the perfect summation of my chosen lifestyle. The night, the whiskey, and my pathetic existence.
Tonight, my album of choice is Moon’s Render of the Veils. In this introspective adventure, I will be abusing myself with Knob Creek Rye (the official whiskey of… me). No beer. No wine. No bullshit. Whiskey, myself, and the moon. Fate led us to this point. So let us begin.
As I sway through the introductory “Immolation Euphoria”, I could never express my anticipation of what is to follow well enough. The ease of far-away tones rises and falls so delicately before exploding in the dark eruption that is “Modrahnit”. And as soon as we work into these fundamental stages of the album, an overwhelming sorrow washes over us as a listener. As I refill my glass for the fourth time, I focus solely on how these sounds surround me.
When the album takes off, it feels neglectful. It feels distant. Leaving an audience alone in the darkness of the unknown. Everything we need is here — The black metal tones are there with a precise cadence and enveloping electronic symphony tying everything together. But the production… it feels so far away. Much like the light of the moon — always present, but never enough. In the same manner, the sound is near us, yet unreachable. From the instrumentals, right down to the vocals. The latter elements are completely unintelligible. Incoherent shrieks that leave the interpretation completely up to the listener. In a way, giving the album a personal, custom quality to it. In most circumstances, many of this elements would be flaws in an album. Here, they enhances it. It’s a sound, built from black metal, that leaves me isolated, forced to recognize that the only external comforts in life are always within sight, but never within grasp. That is our known existence. That is what we seek in our century. And then we die, void of the understanding we had hoped to gain.
As we advance through the subsequent tracks, which are lengthy (and rightfully so), the intensity and aggression increases regularly, but the darkness and pain is consistent. Symphonic vocal undertones begin to tease us in “Casting the Shadow”, an element that supplements the darkness of Moon’s sound with a bit of wonder. But this is still, without any semblance of a doubt, what black metal should be about. It’s not always about Satan. As much as we appreciate His conflicting views on what society deems ‘just’, sometimes the more important aspect is the relation back to the self. Does the sound give you something to think about? Does it inspire you? Do you take comfort in what it represents? All cases are true here.
I’ve long said, take any individual of any denomination and isolate them for a significant period of time, present them with factual evidence — only facts — and see what explanation for the universe they conceive. I am willing to guarantee that their self-promoted beliefs are not those of the religion they associate with. And the explanation is simple. People herd. People are sheep. From religion to sports, people need a group. People need affirmation that what they support is backed by others. Not having that support leads to discomfort and fear. As a people, we need to fit into a group. There is almost no support in this “free world” of individual thought constructs. If you don’t fit in, if you don’t think what your neighbors think, you are an outcast. These are the thoughts Moon inspires with this album. This is the way they manipulate this genre. And it’s incredible. It’s atmospheric, it’s dark, and it doesn’t require any form of acceptance.
Getting back to the music, as we are sliding from “As Stars Merge with Ice” through “Tunnels of Lost Thought”, you begin to understand the grandiosity of this music. It’s not necessarily resentful, or trying to ‘prove itself’, it’s jut trying to make us think. This album understands what it is, and it thrives in it. It is a free-thinking piece that expects the same qualities in its audience. And there is nothing more threatening to our social constructs than free thought. As such, the atmosphere created around this album is a brilliant one. I appreciate everything this album is, and everything it inspires. Everything is impressive, from the opening tracks down to the symphonic fundamentals of the likes of “Mirror of Black Souls”, it’s an organic black metal album on every level that leaves plenty of room for user interpretation.
I’ll be honest with you, it can be a challenging listen. 11 track covering almost 80 minutes is an investment. But I encourage you to take it. What Moon creates with Render of the Veils ins’t perfect, but it is an incredible display of black metal that is presented with all the elements needed to sit in isolation and focus on the music. And that’s what I appreciate most about it. It inspires thought. It’s traditional black metal coming from a faraway place. It’s tremolo picking, it’s blast beats, it’s blood-crying shrieks, it’s raw production. And because of all that, it is inspiring. Please, for everything black metal is, pull up this album, press ‘play’, and focus on everything Moon forces upon you in over an hour of black metal bliss.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”