2016 : Dark Adversary Productions
Format : CD
Noun. oneironaut (plural oneironauts) A person who explores dream worlds, usually associated with lucid dreaming.
It’s been far too long since we’ve had a proper full-length release from Crimson Moon. Before I explain to you why this is probably the best release of the year, I’m going to bore you with a history lesson.
Back in 2007, a few weeks before I was getting ready to graduate from High School, I had started coming around the local Black and Death Metal scene. For a good six months or so we were all anticipating the upcoming, Winds from the Void tour. The lineup was fantastic and included Demoncy, Crimson Moon, Dagon, Legions of Astaroth and Tenebrous. All of these bands represented the apex of the American scene.
Time changes a great deal of things, and Crimson Moon was not impervious. Frontman Scorpios Androctonus would eventually relocate to Germany and for around six years or so, I’d heard nothing from the band. In around 2012 or so Crimson Moon appeared on a four way split release with Scorpios’ ambient project, Akrabu as well as Acherontas and Shibalba (an ambient project of V. Priest/Acherontas) Ana Harrani Sa Alaktasa La Tarat.
Finally, as 2016 draws to a close, Crimson Moon is preparing to release their third full-length album, Oneironaut. Six full songs adding an additional hour to the flawless Crimson Moon catalog.
I had thought that perhaps time would also change the sound of Crimson Moon. Perhaps it has to a degree. There certainly seems to be a leap in production values, but I suppose this is to be expected given the long gap between each record. I think one of the more noteworthy aspects of Oneironaut’s sound is its incorporation of non-Western instrumentation. This has become an unfortunate trend as of late, with some bands shamelessly sampling eastern instruments in their songs instead of playing and recording them on their own. Scorpios has been incorporating actual foreign instrumentation on his own for some time now. Long before the “Orthodox” trend swept through the underground, he had been exploring different instrumentation through projects like Akrabu as far back as the 90’s. I must now take the time to point out that late comers may be quick to dismiss Crimson Moon as “another one of those bands,” yet even a brief trip through their catalog will highlight just how far ahead of their time they were. As far as I’m concerned (and it could be the result of a generation gap here), he pioneered the use of eastern instrumentation in extreme metal. The first track, “Gossamer of Arachne,” gave me the impression that perhaps this was going to be a more complex and sophisticated output in comparison to the previous two full-lengths. A supporting appearance of V. Priest (Acherontas/Shibalba etc) was a welcome surprise. The conjoined effort weaves an atmosphere of mystique that’s almost palpable at times. The album’s application of so many different musical techniques continues to be a highlight throughout the record. “Seeker of the 7th Gate” has some of my favorite riffs on the entire album. Let’s be honest, even though Crimson Moon holds itself to a much higher purpose and standard than providing entertainment to metal heads, I will never pass up an opportunity to point out how amazing a particular part of an album sounds. Though I’ve always felt a certain obligation to avoid trying to isolate single parts of a larger concept. But perhaps that’s my job here? Ixithra (Demoncy, Profane Grace) also provides guest vocals on Urilian Worm. As a lifelong Demoncy fan, this was an incredible moment for me. Hearing Scorpios and Ixithra play together again was a pleasant surprise.
The title track is a twenty minute set piece that closes the album. An introspective instrumental of slowly plucked strings opens the song. This is probably one of my favorite songs on the record. Though I wish I’d had access to a copy of the lyrics, but alas, I’m here with what I have. Oneironaut has several bridges that seem to place more emphasis on instrumentation than on vocalization. It’s an aspect I very much enjoyed.
Oneironaut lives up to its namesake. Crafting dreamy landscapes using large brush strokes at times and finer more detailed ones during others. This record is definitely one of my favorite releases of 2016.