Wednesday 2 May 2012

Moonless - 'Calling All Demons' (Album Review)

By: Aaron Pickford

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/03/2012
Label: Doomentia Records

In summation, a band’s success can often be defined by their debut release and with this record, Moonless clearly have the ambition, the talent and the songs to take on the world.  A top notch record from a top class band.  It is yet another must have record. ‘

‘Calling All Demons’ CD//DD//LP Track listing

1. Mark of the Dead (7:43)
2. Devil’s Tool (5:26)
3. Horn of the Ram (6:28)
4. Calling All Demons (6:52)
5. The Bastard in Me (7:03)
6. Midnight Skies (5:33)

Moonless is:

Kasper Maarbjerg | Bass
Tommas Svendsen | Drums
Hasse Skovbo Dalgaard | Guitar
Kenni Holmstand Peterson | Vocals

The Review:

Over the years, it has become obvious to me that there has been an emerging scene of retro rock bands, who attempt to combine elements of popular music of the past, in order to forge their own unique sound.  Therein lays the difficulty, because bands are then faced with accusations of being copycats and sounding unoriginal and uninspired when/if they become successful.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because with Moonless, here with their debut full length record, ‘Calling All Demons,’ the most obvious influence on their music is 70’s rock and specifically that of Black Sabbath.  I’m sure this is not the first time Moonless have heard this being said and don’t get me wrong, it is far from a criticism of their music, the exact opposite in fact.  Nonetheless in order for a band to be taken seriously, you need to create something that is more that the sum of those influences, something original, inspiring and something which affects people, thankfully Moonless has done just that.  What we have with ‘Calling All Demons, is a vintage sounding doom metal record for the 21st Century and further proof that you can sound retro without sounding dated or mere imitators.  I think this record is amazing!

Having honed their craft, playing an extensive amount of gigs in their homeland of Denmark, including high profile support slots with such luminaries as Saint Vitus and Pentagram, they released a 12” entitled ‘Born Burned Out.’  Calling All Demons’ is their debut release and it is choc-a-bloc full of monster riffs, powerful vocals and a rhythm section who wouldn’t have been out of placed in The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with the drumming being particularly inspired, reminding me of Mitch Mitchell.  Denmark is perhaps better known in heavy metal circles for producing Kind Diamond and Mercyful Fate, rather than doom inspired heavy metal bands and perhaps it is just coincidence, but Moonless appear to draw influences from King Diamond.  Dealing with subject matter such as the occult, black magic and Satan, yet Moonless don’t appear to take themselves too seriously and as a result their music is groove laden, memorable and catchy as hell.

The opening track is ‘Mark of the Dead’ and it sets the tone perfectly for the remainder of the record, with a brazen sounding bass intro, leading into the Hasse Dalgaard show, he produces riff after riff after riff, immediately sucking the listener into their phantasmical world.  Lyrics describing a picture of an apocalyptic nightmare, where you have been marked for death and you’re waiting for your inevitable demise.  The music adds a slow dense feeling to the song too, with the vocals acting as the narrator to your nightmare.  What is clear from the outset is, not only are Moonless great musicians but they are amazing song writers too and despite the song’s sinister tone, it is vibrant and infectious.  It is just fantastic.  Track two is the ‘Devil’s Tool’ and whilst I am not sure if the song title is a euphemism for a specific appendage (think about it); one thing I am certain about though, is that this song has ‘balls’.  Again the riffs are just phenomenal, by no means flashy, but just intense and showing that extreme effort has been put into the composition.  On top of the riffs, there is a constant din of cymbal crashes and the snare drum, in addition to the ‘Geezer’ Butler sounding bass.  It is on this track where Kenni’s amazing vocals come to the fore, reminding you of singers of the past and yet you cannot place who it is.

‘Horn of the Ram’ and ‘Calling all Demons’ reminds me of ‘The Mob Rules’ era of Black Sabbath, slow driving riffs and the sound of powerful vocals belting out.  ‘Horn of the Ram’ is perhaps the darkest track on the record, with images of human sacrifice, burning skulls and bones, you can’t help feeling that Kenni is the orchestrator of a sinister cult or a servant of Satan himself, such is the intensity of the vocals.  In terms of musicality, there is only a very slight variation in the texture of both songs, but again they’re extremely catchy and a performance from the band that packs a punch.  Indeed, you can be forgiven for thinking that Tony Iommi himself was the guitarist, given the flawless performance of Hasse Dalgaard.  The lead work on ‘Calling All Demons’ is of the highest quality

‘The Bastard in me’ is another solid dose of classic doom rock, during which, the drums take centre stage at times, providing solid support to the vibrant and potent force of yet more seamless and awesome riffs, appearing to be composed in such a way to achieve an affect of rendering all listeners completely awestruck.  ‘Midnight Skies’ is the album closer, ending as the album started, with yet more powerhouse performances from all concerned.  In summation, a band’s success can often be defined by their debut release and with this record, Moonless clearly have the ambition, the talent and the songs to take on the world.  A top notch record from a top class band.  It is yet another must have record. 

Band info: Facebook | Bandcamp