The Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite, irresistibly attracts, amazes and inspires. All along, it illuminated the darkness of nights, patronised nocturnal beings, hid a multitude of sins, witnessed quiet mysteries and was trusted with the innermost secrets of people’s minds and souls. Identified with femininity, intuition, sensitivity, arcanum, spirit and feelings became a symbol and source of power for mages, witches, occultists and wise man dabbling in occultism, spiritualism and witchcraft. To this very day, the Moon is divine guardian, protecting its worshipers from the envious eyes of ignorant fools. One of its blessed admirers is Empire of the Moon, a Hellenic black metal project from Greece that puts the Moon in the spotlight, glorifying its mysterious figure.
Band was created in 1996 by multi-instrumentalist and founder of Acherontas Promotions, Ravenlord Wampyri Draconium, known also from Chaosbaphomet, and by Ouroboros on vocals. On 6th June 1997 they released a limited edition 2-track demo For the Ancient Light of Sinn. In 1998 S.V.Mantus, member of Wampyrinacht- a very talented keyboardist and pianist- joined the band. After the debut demo many years went by. Empire of the Moon’s first full album πανσέληνος (Pansélinos), translated as The Full Moon, was released in May 2014. This album was a great display- anchored in the 80’s metal roots of Hellenic black metal, being a Greek answer to Norwegian black metal hordes and deriving from Greece’s mythology, philosophy and traditions. In πανσέληνος, Empire of the Moon emphasised primal worship to the forces of feminity and the Great Mother, hidden behind many names – Luna, Kali and Tiamat. Sonically, they come back to heavy riffing from the first wave of black metal, yet very polished, with stunning elements of doom, dark and extreme. With this majestic masterwork they set their standard and made many fans of black metal wait in a great impatience for their next release.
Finally, ΕΚΛΕΙΨΙΣ (ékleipsis), The Eclipse, was announced to be released 10th January 2020. Seduced by the first album, I was more than happy to have a look at Empire of the Moon’s new creation. Lifting slightly the veil of secrecy, I will begin with a simple statement – it’s another masterpiece. The album opens with a prelude titled Arrival. It’s a sinister but very solemn and an absolutely perfect intro. It starts with synths intensified with sounds of choir, slowly evolving just to eventually blast with heavy riffs. It sounds just like it was a voiced moment caught a few seconds before the eclipse. Next, the track which promoted the album, Imperium Tridentis, starts with a burst of heavy riffing bringing to mind 1990’s black metal with a twist of the Hellenic sounding. The composition is really well thought out. Majestic, yet bleak shrieking combined with somewhat raw and fast parts create dark and occultic atmosphere. Third track, Per Aspera Ad Lunae – I. The Resonance Within, is a first part of a 4-piece epic Per Aspera Ad Lunae – the heart of ΕΚΛΕΙΨΙΣ. It starts with a blast of tremolos and elevated shrieks. Spoken part sounds like a prophesy and this adds even more spiritual feeling. The second part, II. Two Queens Appear, is a unique reference to late 1990’s symphonic metal sound and a perfect blend of melodiousness with heavy riffs. It reminded me a bit of Dissection’s masterpiece Reinkaos. Both are imbued with elements of great occultism and mystical sonic presented in the most solemn way. III. Descending, the third part of Per Aspera Ad Lunae, starts slowly with majestic melodiousness preceding speeding up riffs and drums, leaving a lot of space for choirs and display of S.V.Mantus’s keyboard skills. The next track is a dive into occultic profundities, also being a break between third and fourth part of Per Aspera Ad Lunae. Devi Maha Devi with its steadily increasing beginning riff, guest solo appearances of George Emmanuel from Lucifer’s Child and Chris Adamou from Dope of Gods, all together with a sound specific to Empire of the Moon. It absolutely stole my heart. It is a hymn to glorify the Devine Goddess Mother whose fire burns inside of Her worshipers. It is also a first track of the band that lived to see its video kept in the dark, second wave of black metal style. The last track and the fourth part of epic Per Aspera Ad Lunae is IV. Ο Υιός της Φωτιάς – A Son of Fire. A great leading, slowly evolving with sudden changes of tempo and almost balladic parts made it absolutely worth spending almost 10 minutes on listening. It is a perfect closing track, putting together all ideas from the album.
Beside sounding great, Empire of the Moon created a lovely piece; full of symbolism and suppositions. Starting from an album cover that presents a lunar eclipse. The track list represents each stage of the eclipse: Arrival spells it, Imperium Tridentis names three astronomical bodies taking part in it, The Resonance Within reflects its fated arrival, Two Queens Appear is a reference to the Moon and the Sun representing two opposite powers, Descending describes the event, Devi Maha Devi is a hymn and a reminder that there’s only one Goddess represented by the Moon and the last track, Son of Fire, omens the arrival of synonymous Son of Fire. Another important meaning is hidden in the title of epic Per Aspera ad Lunae, translated as Through the hardships to the Moon. Isn’t it literally reflecting the eclipse itself? Is the Moon a dream realm? Or is there another hidden meaning? Lyric-wise, there’s even more symbolism and ways of their interpretation will vary from a person to person. I see ΕΚΛΕΙΨΙΣ as a portend of something different, a new era maybe. And I really hope that Empire of the Moon will reveal its secrets soon with a new album.
Once again, Empire of the Moon have presented a wonderful piece, carrying on the great mysterious occultic ideas from the previous album. The unique blend of Hellenic black metal presented by this band will please all black metal fans. It is absolutely a decent album with perceptible roots in the 90’s sound, and lyrics being its strong feature. ΕΚΛΕΙΨΙΣ is a perfect and majestic start of a New Year and in my humble opinion, a real masterpiece.
Highlights: Imperium Tridentis, Devi Maha Devi, Son of Fire
ΕΚΛΕΙΨΙΣ is available from 10th January 2020 via Iron BoneHead Productions.