It appears as if symphonic Black Metal is having some kind of a come-back lately. This subgenre, that was inspired by the likes of Emperor and Rotting Christ, exploded in the mid 1990s and decayed shortly afterwards in the “gothic” sound of post-“Cruelty and the Beast” Cradle of Filth and the way-too-ornamental, blockbuster albums of Dimmu Borgir. The sound had gotten too clean, the spirit was gone. It is with great curiosity that veterans have seen the resurgence of the style by the hand of projects like Vargrav – and the success they have among younger audiences. This seems the right moment in time for a musical entity like Crimson Moon to rise again.
But one could argue that Crimson Moon where never gone: just not a “1 album every 2 years” kind of project. The story started in 1994 as the brain child of Scorpios Androctonus. The first LP “To Embrace the Vampyric Blood” came in 1996 and was not an untypical USBM release for that time: some good ideas bound by an underwhelming production. Then came a long silence of 9 years where the mastermind of the project was busy elsewhere. The second LP “Under the Serpentine Spell” from 2005 felt like a leap forward, but was apparently material from the 90s. Then came 11 years without a full lenght release. I would go as far as to argue that “Oneironaut”, an amazing surprise from 2016, feels like the first album of a project by veteran musicians. In the above mentioned 11 years, Scorpios Androctonos had move from California to Germany and created a new sound. Allow me to guess that, in regard to the common points in the occult subject of the music that what he did in the 90s with what he does now, it just seemed a good idea to use that old name and very cool logo. Maybe because to be from the 90s gives black metal some kind of credibility. Whatever the name of the band, the album was a great output. After this, the new Crimson Moon seems to have found a discipline. This include becoming a band rather than a one-man project, very satisfying live performances and a new album after only 3 years. Since 2019 they belong to the fleet of the French label Debemur Morti, which is usually a brand for quality music and very nice editions.
“Mors Vincit Omnia” is the name of their new recording, and both the CD-digipak and the 2LP come in a gorgeous presentation. The musical contents are gorgeous as well. Whoever heard and enjoyed “Oneironaut” can stop reading now and go get the album. Crimson Moon sound in 2019 like a natural evolution of what they did in 2016: organic sounding symphonic black metal that does neither falls into an excess of ornaments nor uses über-bombastic, cheesy beats. The main difference this album has with its predecessor is a cleaner production. The whole is more “occult” than raw. Dark, but not too dark. The intelligently written compositions alternate between true black metal parts and more symphonic ones. The riffs are diverse and at times really memorable. The screaming voice combines with deep clean male vocals – an element that has been used a bit too much in this recording, if you ask me. The use of analoge sounding synths and acoustic instruments for the background lines and some very interesting melodies is really a virtue of this recording. Compared with some symphonic Black Metal albums from the late 90s, this elements are used when they should, and not omnipresent. Crimson Moon manage to stay in the right side of the fine line that separates symphonic from cheesy. They stay in that right side for the whole duration of a long album, that is very well structured. It makes no sense to look for a favorite track in “Mors Vincit Omnia”: this record has to be enjoyed as a whole. The evolution of the music has a narrative, without sounding too theatrical. What we have here is actually a compendium of the good things that Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth had in their origins. Crimson Moon has, nevertheless, a sound of its own. It will be for many some kind of walk through memory lane. But one that feels refreshing. (Damián)