Christian black metal. Three words you'd think that would never appear in that order. I'm not sure how many bands unite under such a banner, but whether there are several dozen or four of these groups, it still seems like quite a strange, possibly gimmicky project to undertake. But I'm here to judge the album, not the religious ideals of the music style. Crimson Moonlight is one of the band's who employs this variety of black metal, and unsurprisingly, it's not a whole lot different from the other artists of the extreme variation of metal (though with a slight melodic edge). While originally they were to record but one demo and play one show before breaking up, the Crimson Moonlight ended up surviving for much longer. Within the last eight (nine come this summer) years the Swedish black metallers have recorded and released eight releases, two of which are studio albums. Both their 2003 effort, The Covenant Progress, and their latest studio offering, 2005's Veil of Remembrance have been fairly successful, as they have earned several encouragingly positive reviews.
With Veil of Remembrance, Crimson Moonlight changes their musical direction. While the band's debut offering took a melodic black metal approach, their second introduced more of a black/death metal direction. The mixing of the melodic black metal sound of old and the new brutal death metal influence produces an unsurprisingly enjoyable 43 minute collection of nine mid-length tracks. Crimson Moonlight puts forth a very concentrated, yet frenzied assault upon the listener with each of the members taking an important role in the progression of the music. As one would expect from an extreme metal band, the guitars standout among all else in the mix. Guitarists Per Sundberg and Jonas Arvidsson (as well as current DivineFire guitarist Jani Stefanovic on songs two and nine) record countless mind numbingly infectious riffs. The relentless, rabid-fire techniques which Crimson Moonlight's guitarists employ maintain a heavy, in your face presence throughout the record. But while they play a large role in the musical direction of the band, the guitars aren't the only element high in the mix on Veil of Remembrance. Both the brutal drumming of drummer, Gustav, and the harsh growls and screams of the band's frontman, Pilgrim plays an important role as well. The drumming is fairly standard for the genre, yet it's quite difficult not to enjoy the chaotic blast beats which run wild throughout the album. But the insane speed that Gustav plays at is not the most important quality which the drumming offers. For the drummer's ability to keep the music flowing and provide a steady, consistent rhythm is more important to the overall excellence of the music, and Gustav definitely accomplishes this task. The inhumane grunts of Pilgrim are also an effective part of the band's sound. Though they do not exactly deliver Crimson Moonlight's message as well as some of the other Christian bands, they do live up to the brutality of the drumming and guitar interplay. Similarly to the drumming, Pilgrim's powerful screams do not take a backseat to the guitars, but in a way, act as its own instrument filling in the void created by the unfortunate lack of audible bass. Each of these elements are essential to Crimson Moonlight's sound, and luckily they all manage to enhance the band's sound.
Lyrically, the band doesn't try to hide their beliefs. In one way or another, each track returns to the idea that hope and faith is stronger than the pain one feels on earth. The band alludes to this belief several times during the album, be it through album art or the lyrics themselves. Lines such as "Oh, there was heard a familiar sound / The signal of the end of the night / Indicating a recollection was born / Springtime approaching in all its glorious beauty"
or "My way went on into wilderness / Along the well-known path called Confusion... / After a dark night I approached the big gate / though I was astonished when I saw that it was more than a gate"
reveal the Swedes' personal beliefs, yet at the same time, manage not to sound preachy. Personally, I can't really say that I'm a fan of the band's writing, but I suppose the poetic technique that both Pilgrim and Gustav make use of is fairly decent.
With 2005's excellent Veil of Remembrance, Crimson Moonlight shows that they have the potential to do very well in the extreme metal field. Though Christian black metal might not be your thing (not tr00 or gr1mm enough…whatever), it should not stop you from checking Veil of Remembrance, which remains an excellent offering from the young band. Though perhaps not the most original of bands, Crimson Moonlight's combination of black and death metal should prove to be a hit with fans of both genres, as the musicianship and song writing that makes up this hybrid of extreme metal styles is quite superb. Get this if you have the chance.
Intimations of Everlasting Constancy
My Grief, My Remembrance
Reflections Upon The Distress And Agony Of Faith
Embraced By the Beauty of Cold