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1. Seven Bells
3. Serpent Messiah
4. Blood Into Wine
7. The Three Beggars
Secret Of The Moon's melancholy black metal has relied on blanketed atmosphere rather than face-ripping speed. There are blast beats and static tremolo riffing, but those elements are more side endeavors than main components. Their music is heavy on the Satanic undertones, and that continues on their latest album, Seven Bells. This brooding hour of doomy black metal is as inspired as their last effort, 2009's Privilegivm, though they still have trouble with maintaining consistency over the course of songs with double-digit lengths.
Seven Bells is not far removed from what Secret Of The Moon was playing around with on Privilegivm. For those unaware of the band's past, that means songs that rotate between standard blasting whiplash and controlled, mid-tempo ranges. If there's something that the band have down to an exact science, it's the manipulation of the atmosphere. These songs feel damned, stripped of emotions and soul, leaving an empty vessel to give in to the wicked temptations of the devil.
The title track begins the album as expected, with a two-minute build of slow-moving riffs that drains the life out. When things seem at their most grim, along comes vocalist SG to proclaim, "O God, forsaken universe." A decent guitar solo, which is not something the band is widely credited for, closes out the first track. The first half is pretty similar to the title track, weaving around themes of ritualistic jargon supported by SG's hybridized haunting chants/raspy singing.
The band holds off on the ambitious material for the last three tracks. "Worship" is the strongest of the bunch, a lofty nine-minute jam that includes an excellent bass-led transition and tempo shifts that avoid coming off as awkward. "Nyx" starts out promising enough, and its organ-heavy outro piles on the ambience, but succumbs to its own grand vision. "The Three Beggars" is a little more resourceful with its length, and has an energetic spark missing from many of the songs. Well-placed female vocals add to the eerie mood that clouds the tune.
A lack of definite progression does not hinder the lasting power of Seven Bells. It's about on par with their previous albums, and fans should be very satisfied with how Secrets Of The Moon captures the essence of their moody, straight-faced selves. The band is at the point where consistency is a guaranteed, but innovation is not. While it should do well with long-time listeners of the band, it's also a good starting point for those who want to dive into the bleak apparels of Secrets Of The Moon.
Bottom Line: Seven Bells is not a major step forward from Privilegivm, but is still a solid album of moody black metal that borders on doom/ambience.