Secrets of the Moon – Black House (Lupus Lounge)

Friday, 8th May 2020
Rating: 7/10

What started on 2015’s SUN, Secrets of the Moon is finishing on Black House. That, being, their complete metamorphosis from a firebrand black metal band in the vein of Dissection and Watain, and into far-flung dark rock/metal territory. It’s not an easy transition to make probably because most bands don’t have a singer who can get off the growls and into more palatable vocals. Secrets of the Moon, in fact, do, but in the process of checking off the necessary Fields of the Nephilim and Sisters of Mercy boxes, they left the hooks and intrigue at the door.

Black House immediately brims with promise — album opener “Sanctum” is far and away the best song between this particular album and SUN, a jangly, pensive rocker right out of the playbook of the U.K.’s The Mission, a band who gets overlooked in such matters. Vocalist/guitarist Ar keeps his vocals on an even keel — he’s not going to bother anyone, but he’s not about to take over a song either. This becomes an issue as the Black House works its way through the Alice in Chains-derived “He is Here,” which yawns like a rainy Seattle afternoon. The album’s title track shoots out more grunge-infested riffing with minor-key melodies, while the stalled acoustics of “Cotard” and experimental “Heart” end up a bit limp near their conclusion.

It takes some guts to abandon black metal’s safe and well-protected pasture — bands can make a career out of being willingly boxed in, so for Secrets of the Moon to make such a fevered attempt at reinvention and to come away with a mixed bag of songs, is, unfortunately, a disappointment. It would be pretty cool to have the German version of Sisters of Mercy or The Mission. Maybe next time.