Moon – Caduceus Chalice (Moribund Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 7/10

Australian black metal virtually has no identity. Well, of course it doesn’t since there’s like, no black metal bands of note from the Land Down Under. Not counting Destroyer 666 or the sorely-missed The Berzerker, the extreme metal dial usually doesn’t tip Australia’s way, so in turn, Moon’sCaduceus Chalice warrants further investigation. Plus, the album title is pretty rad. A “caduceus” is a wand or a staff. Learning is fun.

Sub black metal is the name of the game here, with a virtually nonexistent production job, which means this is going to draw instant parallels to the prime of works of Xasthur, who made a career out of releasing albums that sounded like they were recorded in a shoebox. And of course, there’s a certain charm and harmonic allure to this, and Moon (who is a one-man band, naturally) do a mightily good job of harnessing some moonlit and eerie moments, most notably on the striking “Forest Samhain.”

The use of a drum machine is somewhat of a deterrent, detracting from the album’s touchy-feely woodsy vibe. Methinks quality BM drummers are few and far between in Australia, so in most cases the person in charge will do the drums themselves, but ‘tis not the case here. Fortunately, the only time the tempo gets out of snail-pace is on “Beneath.” The rest of the album lurches forward with virtually no urgency, something that suits the near-20 minute “Chalice.”

One of the nice things about necro black metal is that there’s always someone there to pick up the slack when a key band departs the scene. In this case, the scene will be searching for its next Xasthur. Whether Moon is that band remains to scene, but if they do become that band, it will be fun to say, “We’re over the moon for Moon.” Yeah, that would be GREAT to say when doing a black metal review…

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