I, Voidhanger remains bloody, exciting with new Chaos Moon, The Order of the Solar Temple

VoidhangerWe embrace variety around here, in case you haven’t noticed. I can’t think of anything more boring than cranking out five black metal or five death metal reviews in a row with no break in between. I have zero interest in doing that, and I think that’s partially what keeps this page refreshing. For me anyway.

So today we have a fantastic example of variety, as up are two new releases from the tremendous I, Voidhanger label, whose records we don’t get to nearly enough. Totally acknowledged, and we’re working to change all of that. You never know what you’re going to get from them when they send an e-mail full of promos, and every time I get something from them, I’m amazed at just how varied their signings are and their roster has become. So if you, too, are into changing things up to keep your mind engaged and you excited, today will be a very useful entry for you, as we’re going to look at new records from Chaos Moon and The Order of the Solar Temple.

Chaos Moon coverWe’ll start off with Chaos Moon, an atmospheric, daring black metal project that is the work of one man, Pennsylvania-based Alex “Esoterica” Poole, who now handles every speck of music including what’s on his new album “Resurrection Extract.” A veteran of bands such as Esoterica and Krieg, this guy proves all you need is an imagination and inspiration to create a full-bodied collection of gripping black metal, and every moment of this thing is impressive and moving. This is the first Chaos Moon full-length in seven long years (“Lanquor Into Echoes, Beyond” arrived in 2007), though the band delivered a couple of EPs and a split since then. The music here always fascinates, and it’s a needed dose of creativity in what’s becoming a slightly overdone black metal scene. That, in itself, is reason to try this record on for size.

“Seeing Through One I” opens the album with eerie noise, crashing cymbals, and a psychedelic gaze as this fitting instrumental leads into “Bloodfall,” which blasts out of the gates with black melodies, harsh vocals, a planet’s worth of atmosphere, and hazy cascading that carries you into the storm. “Altar” is slow driving and murky, though it eventually settles into a majestic sprawl, with tortured wails, roars that sound animalistic, and eventually a calm, where a dark fog lifts up and carries into “Barrow.” That track has a mesmerizing atmosphere, smeary melodies, and more grisly growls, which all combine to make for a horrific ride that’s violent and dizzying. “Dreams Scattered Over an Infinite Mirror” begins with a dose of deathrock, which is a nice touch, before slipping back into storming black metal, growls that will shake you to your core, and an ending pocket of lush ambiance that gives you a strong lesson in all of the things that Poole does so well with this project.

“Asemic Weakness” is up next, and it also has strains of drizzling deathrock to get you chilled before the hammer drops. The song feels like a fever dream for the most part, with melodies that rise up like steam, vicious shrieks that slice through it and go for the veins, and later some doomy passages to make things that much sootier. “Hymn to Iniquity II” is the longest cut at 10:10, and it wholly delivers, beginning with a gazey texture, flowing into a flush of melody, and then getting creaky and monstrous when the vocals finally arrive to mar the tapestry. The song moves slowly, calculatingly, though it has its harder-edged moments, and the entirely of this is full of catharsis and emotion. “Empty Fissure” floats out of its predecessor, as it pulsates, offers cold winds to spark goose flesh, and even some boasts dreamy guitar work that might make some think of bands such as Alcest. A final rush of ambiance leads into the closer “Exordium of Exile,” which detonates right away with metallic fury but it, like many of the songs on “Resurrection,” goes back and forth between moods. There are strong, guttural riffs and hints of horror, but you also are served beds of lush synth and whirry sentiments. The final minutes go back to convulsive, letting Poole have one final chance at bloodletting, where he goes for broke and comes away making a crushing impression.

THE ORDER OF THE SOLAR TEMPLE coverAs for The Order of the Solar Temple, well, that’s a totally different story. This band is more inclined to grab fans of Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Slough Feg, early Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, and groups of that ilk. Their sound is pleasingly vintage, but with a dark, occult edge. There are hooks, great riffs, fun, and a huge amount of classic metal nourishment for which many people, such as myself, crave. The Vancouver-based band might not grab the most sullen, and hate-filled among the metal circles, but they’re already widely served. To have a classic-sounding record like this, that is so true and bloodily colorful, is a damn joy. And with eight songs on this self-titled opus, the serving size is just right, and they leave you wanting a hell of a lot more. As for the band, it’s comprised of singer/multi-instrumentalist M. “Macabre’ Emery; S. Mulleady on organs, keys, mellotron, guitars, vocals; and drummer/percussionist P. Fiess.

Sweltering “Fallout Woman” opens the record, with Emery wondering, “Maybe you’re an animal,” before he sets off on a lust-driven song that, honestly, not many bands try these days. And this group pulls it off expertly. And, oh man, brace yourself for the chorus. Then it’s into the adventurous “Aeons of Horus,” a song that begins with chimes and mouth harp, making like it’s going to go the folk route, but then it unfurls completely. A total ’70s rock-style presentation flows out, with gritty clean vocals, great guitar work, and ritualistic visions. Emery howls the demand, “Cast out your fear, let your spirit unfold,” as the rest of the band gives him bombast for this tale of the Egyptian deity. “The Cult (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)” is swaggering fun, so much so that you almost should be required to have a beer with it. The cut has a “Detroit Rock City” vibe musically, and it’s just stupidly catchy. I find myself repeating the chorus all the time. The band then goes headfirst into Lovecraft lore by conjuring “Jervas Dudley,” that has a Ghost B.C.-style guitar riff tied to it, some higher-pitched singing, and utter enthusiasm that drives this cut based on “The Tomb.” It kicks your ass.

“Pale Horse” feels like a Deep Purple song, and an awesome one, as a motorcycle revs up, the riffs follow, and the whole thing swings into filthy blues rock with scintillating soloing. Killer track. “Back Home” is charged up and energetic, with Emery insisting, “I’m finding my way,” as the rest of the band digs up more bluesy guitar swaggering and a 1970s/1980s classic metal vibe. “Dominance and Submission” has a pretty hard-driving riff that leads into the track, before more higher-register vocals strike, organs blare, and the pace punches you. The song keeps charging hard, and while it has its cheeky moments, it’s a pretty fun track. Closer “The Order” has a dark opening, with guitars burning, and the pace marching along methodically. An evil-sounding lead line kicks in, sinister laughs erupt, and this smoky dirge gets on its way headlong into the witching hour. It has some incredibly sticky moments, and overall, it’s a perfect way to send listeners on their way, anticipating more from this band.

You can’t ask for more variety than what I, Voidhanger offers with these two records, and if these bands happen to overlap your interests, then you’re in a lot of luck. Both records are worthy of your hard-earned money and provide plenty of substance, albeit in different ways. Whether you lean toward the black metal atmospherics of Chaos Moon or feel like getting into the occult gutter with Order of the Solar Temple, you’ll come away fully satisfied and potentially devastated.

For more on Chaos Moon, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chaos-Moon/111626415515769

For more on Order of the Solar Temple, go here: http://www.theorderofthesolartemple.com/

To buy the albums, go here: http://www.i-voidhanger.com/mailorder.htm

For more on the label, go here: http://www.i-voidhanger.com/