Despite being around for ages, Crimson Moon have remained somewhat a hidden entity in the black metal murmur of past decades. A brainchild of Scorpios Androctonus, a sole surviving member from the haze of their early years, Crimson Moon launched their first storm warning of an album as early as in 1996 in shape of their debut To Embrace the Vampyric Blood. It was a low-budget effort, but still bursting with potential and above anything – a really enjoyable listen. Eccentric and mystical USA black metal, a lot like their countrymen Absu or Yamatu. Years passed and Crimson Moon somewhat dropped from the ProgCave radar only to re-emerge recently in shape of a promo, predicting a new album, namely Mors Vincit Omnia. The black metal surprise of the year (for me at least) and a lot like meeting of a old ghost from the past.
Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first: Crimson Moon still sound exactly like one would expect them to sound if being familiar with any of their previous albums. If you were a fan, you’ll dig this. If you are new to them but enjoy the new album, you are going to love the early ones as well. Lengthy tunes in concept of a eerie and atmospheric black metal that is, veiled in black robes, old castles, dungeons and candles. Sermons of occult, but not the least comical in delivery. Crawling from speakers with a pretty much perfect sound for a black metal like this – clear, chilly, a bit dusty and cobwebbed. The overall sound is nicely distant and rather meditative than violent. Vocals being about as much throaty gnarls as they are chanting choirs. Due everything before mentioned Mors Vincit Omnia moves like a shadow in full-moon nights, coming and going, never perfectly in revealing itself. An enchanting listen, to say the least.
What we have here is definitely a record for the patient kind. Mp3-skippers should not bother, as Mors Vincit Omnia (death conquers all) is a record where different pieces form a bigger puzzle. It is like a horror film that makes no sense if you watch only the first 20 minutes of it. First two songs (Vanitas and Altars of Azrael) build the atmospherics up for epic Godspeed, Angel of Death to deliver the first deadly blow of the album. Followed by a song what might be the closest thing to typical second wave black metal Upon the Pale Horse and then by the absolute climax of Parcae – Trinity of Fates. An absolute masterpiece of obscure black metal, a lot like Cultes Des Ghoules at their best. With these compositions Crimson Moon set their snares and snag the helpless listener to their black bag of hauls of the night. After being mesmerized by Trinity of Fates, rest of the album fades cryptically like the early morning mists and we poor souls wake from the unnatural sleep with the outro track Tempus Fugit. All in strange places and in strange positions.
Crimson Moon’s latest seems to be a record that is delivered exactly in the right time for it’s own benefit. Wrapped up in obscurity and mysticism (rather minimalistic than bombastic), it has a hazy aura of secrecy to it and this is making the occult content of it sound convincing. If you allow me to use one more horror movie stereotype of an image here still (there has been quite a few already), listening to this record is like peeking to a unknown ritual from behind of the old sarcophagus, in a unknown old house of your mysterious old host. This all brings up the nostalgic vibes of 1990’s black metal and as several newcomer bands are currently sporting somewhat similar nocturnal obscurity (Vargrav and Warmoon Lord in forefront), one have to guess that the black metal world would be now more than ready discover Crimson Moon too, for a wider awareness. At least all the stars would seem be in the right place, so to speak.
Mors Vincit Omnia is – along with the latest Funereal Presence album – the very best thing black metal has had to offer to me this year. Closer to Czech masters Root than somewhat popular Darkthrone worship of the day, Crimson Moon have that fat aura of underground credibility to them and this all works for their advantage. With the best album of their careers now under their belts, the band should be more than pleased in what they achieved. Mors Vincit Omnia is a record that stands out from the masses in peculiarity, quality, ambience and plausibility and it is more than most in this business will ever achieve.