Secrets of the Moon – “Black House”
Label: Prophecy Productions
Release Date: 8 May 2020
Secrets of the Moon aren’t a prog band in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, I am quite sure that most people would scoff at the notion. But I am not most people. The fact is that they have and do progress from album to album. The biggest change for them was on their last album “Sun,” which saw them move away from their doom laden black metal roots and embrace a more approachable dark rock style.
It’s safe to say that if you are a long time fan of bands like Katatonia and Paradise Lost (see next entry), then you will enjoy the direction that Secrets of the Moon have taken. They have gone a bit further in that direction on their new album “Black House” which also features one of the best album covers I have ever seen. The album is still quite dark…I mean it is a BLACK house. And it is still very much in line with the essence of the band.
Frontman SG has a distinctive clean voice that has gotten stronger and more confident over the years. The opener “Sanctum” is a pounding gothic anthem and a great start to the album. The next two songs are the first releases from the album. “Don’t Look Now” sounds incredibly bleak yet has synths that provide a ray of light. “Veronica’s Room” is a catchy tune and a logical selection as a first single.
“Cotard” shows that Secrets of the Moon are quite capable of doing something beautiful. The title track is as ominous as one would assume with a title like it has. But still the chorus provides a bit of reprieve musically. The closing track “Earth Hour” is another favorite that would work as a song by The Mission. While Secrets of the Moon are unpredictable musically, they are quite reliable when it comes to making great albums and “Black House” is yet another one.
Paradise Lost – “Obsidian”
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 15 May 2020
I’ve loved Paradise Lost for a very long time. Draconian Times was the album that sucked me in. I stuck with the band thru all of the experiments too. Personally I think “Host” is a brave and brilliant album. I am probably in the minority. One thing that I love about Paradise Lost is that fearlessness. They do whatever the fuck they want.
The last 2 albums the band have revisited their earlier death metal sound and mixed it with some doom. For me though, both “The Plague Within” and “Medusa” sound very safe with “Medusa” being rather boring. I miss that sound they had on their self titled album or even on “Tragic Idol,” which was for me one of the best albums they have ever done.
“Obsidian” had a teaser that suggested a step back to that sound and musically it does have a lot more variety than either of the last two albums. “Darker Thoughts” is a great song though the problem is that Nick Holmes is still clinging to his dust choked harsh vocal and using it where it isn’t really needed. It doesn’t ruin the song (or others) but it’s the one thing that sounds a bit forced at times.
There are a lot of really good songs on “Obsidian” like “Ghosts”or “Forsaken” or the massive “Ravenghast.” The last one makes good use of his death vocals though. There’s a time and place for everything. The good news is that “Obsidian” merges the things that Paradise Lost have been doing lately with some of the sounds they have developed over the years. The bottom line is that this is just a great batch of songs and that’s always been the key for this legendary band.
If you don’t know Green Carnation, stop reading this and go listen to “Light of Day, Day of Darkness.” That album redefined what was possible in progressive metal. One song, one hour. From there the band, stripped their sound down a bit and focused more on songs than being epic. It still worked though. Their last album was “Acoustic Verses” which showed they didn’t need amplification to sound amazing.
Ah but that was 2006. So if Tool can re-emerge after the same hiatus, so can Green Carnation. “Leaves of Yesteryear” harkens back to their earlier sound especially since they revisit an early song, “My Dark Reflections of Life and Death” which was on their debut album “Journey to the End of the Night.” It proves that Green Carnation were way ahead of their time as this song sounds as current as ever.
The title track opens the album and was the first song released. It’s dark and has a great hook. Kjetil Nordhus still has one of my favorite voices in music. The guy can just sing. “Sentinels” is another great, somewhat radio friendly track. Well, assuming radio played great music which it doesn’t. OK my radio show does and I will be playing this one for sure. The album closes with a somewhat obligatory cover of the Black Sabbath song “Solitude.” It’s on brand with their song and it’s a good rendition.
If you love Green Carnation, you will love “Leaves of Yesteryear.” It’s a nice reintroduction to the band. It also makes for a nice overview of the band for those who don’t know this Norwegian powerhouse. I am hoping this means that they have returned for a while. Tchort seems to be motivated and “Leaves of Yesteryear” sounds like Green Carnation have something to prove.