Crimson Moonlight – “Divine Darkness”


Divine Darkness (2016}Crimson Moonlight and Antestor represent some of the finest in Scandinavian black metal and both bands took an extended break before releasing their last albums, in both cases roughly seven years.  As was the case with the return album Omen by Antestor,  Crimson Moonlight returns at the top of their game with Divine Darkness, darkly powerful, riveting, and beautiful black (unblack) metal.

The origin of Crimson Moonlight dates back to 1997 when the band formed to play some stripped down black metal and featured current members Pilgrim (vocals) and Gustav Elowson (drums).  The first album, Eternal Emperor arrived in 2008 and it wasn’t until 2003 and some lineup changes that the second album The Covenant Progress was released on Rivel Records, followed in 2004 by Veil of Remembrance.   At this point, the band had toured Europe, released some other demos and ep’s along the way and found themselves looking for a label.  In 2006, the band signed to Endtime Productions, known for their roster of extreme metal bands including Extol, Antestor, and Drottnar.  The band released an ep In Depths of Dreams Unconscious and played the Cornerstone Festival for their last time in 2007.  Since that time there has been an appearance at Nordic Fest and promise of a new album which finally came to fruition in Divine Darkness.  The album was produced by Samuel Durling (Extol, Drottnar, Lengsel) and recorded and mixed at the HoboRec studio by Ulf and Crimson Moonlight.

Crimson Moonlight must be a band that doesn’t  believe in wasting time with intro songs or slow buildups as “The Dogma of Chalcedon” opens up the album with some ferocious distorted black metal screaming followed by blast beast and roaring guitars.  The song is literally a  perfect way to open up any long-awaited album as it loudly proclaims the band is back and in top form.  Guitars have a rough edge to their tone, the rhythm sections rumbles and roars along at varying speeds and the song takes some twists and turns through the expected blast beat dominated parts and the less expected melodic  sections.

“The Suffering” opens up with a riff that makes one wonder where the song is heading but then goes into full blast beat, answering the question.  Guitars add in the expected droning riffs during the blast beat sections which are paired well with other sections featuring hyperfast double bass driven rumbling.  What I appreciate in the songs on the album is how the songs are constructed as there are melodic, slower sections interspersed with the black and death metal parts and the transitions are seamless.  Vocal tone also shifts from a higher pitch black metal near shrieking to a deeper death metal growl and at all times adds intensity to the song.  The song ends with a perfect solitary, mournful sounding piano outro of one of the main riffs.

The overall production and mixing on the album is perfect for the genre.  Guitars and drums are distinct and the vocals are blended in well.  This is a powerful sounding album, dark and ominous as expected and hoped for.   The slower, pounding section of “Divine Darkness” is a good example of the power of sound on the album and the little touches spread throughout the album like the subtle background keyboards/strings in  “Divine Darkness” add some great atmosphere and feeling to the song and album.

The album provides a bit of break for the listener on “Voistinu Voskrese” , which as far as I can tell refers to the Paschal greeting, “Christ is Risen,” answered by “the Lord is Risen indeed”.  The song itself is primarily atmospheric in nature although there is a double bass line that drives things along over the quieter, mostly spoken lyrics.

The relief is short-lived as “Kingdom of the Wolf” picks back up following an eerie intro of wind, church bells, and crows/ravens which is something I almost would have expected as a start to the album.  What I like in this song especially is how the song is constructed and makes use of both blast beats but also some rumbling double bass drum sections.  Around the midpoint of the song there is a transition and tempo change that completely changes the direction of the song as things get much faster and more melodic before the returning to blast beats for the end.

Both “Dusk” and “In Silence In Chains” which end the album continue in the theme of adding complexity in the song arrangements.  “Dusk” begins slowly with some almost baritone operatic vocals before the song completely changes direction when the black metal vocals and blast beats return . The closing track “In Silence In Chains” starts out fast but settles into more of a grinding almost plodding pace for most of the song or at least as plodding as black metal gets.

For many, Crimson Moonlight is one of those legendary bands and their new album has been long awaited.  The ever present worry in these situations is that the release will not live up to the lofty expectations given the band’s reputation.  You need not worry in this case as Divine Darkness roars from the beginning and takes the listener through many twists and turns throughout the album.  Crimson Moonlight is back in top form.

Rating: 9.5/10

Written by John Jackson

Track Listing:
1. The Dogma Of Chalcedon
2. The Suffering
3. Divine Darkness
4. I Am Tribulation
5. Voistinu Voskrese
6. Kingdom Of The Wolf
7. Dusk
8. In Silence, In Chains

Band Members:
Pilgrim Bestiarius XII – Vocals
Gustav Elowson – Drums and samples
Per Sundberg – Guitars, bass, and keyboards
Johan Wold Ylenstrand – Guitars and bass

“The Glorification of the Master of Light” [Demo] (1997)
“Glorification of the Master of Light” [Live album] (1998)
“Eternal Emperor” EP (1998)
“The Covenant Progress” (2003)
“Songs from the Archives” [Compilation] (2003)
“Veil of Remembrance” (2004)
“In Depths of Dreams Unconscious” EP (2007)
‘The Suffering’ [Single] (2014)
“Divine Darkness” (2016)

Record Label: Endtime Productions, Feb. 2016

Weblinks: Facebook / Instagram / iTunes

Buy the album here:
 First Paradox 
 Nordic Mission

Video for ‘The Suffering’


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