I have no running tally on what metal sub-genres get written about the most on this site, but black metal definitely is up there. There’s so damn much of it now, which isn’t always a good thing due to oversaturation, but the great stuff still manages to stand out and make its own mark. That’s what Chaos Moon did with their stunning fourth record “Eschaton Memoire.”
Turning toward bleak, apocalyptic themes and paying homage to black metal’s old guard, the band—Eric Baker (vocals), Alex Poole (guitars and atmosphere), Steven Blackburn (guitars and atmosphere), and Jack Blackburn (drums)—elevates what they accomplished on the excellent 2014 record “Resurrection Extract” and everything that preceded it and rips out one of the most fascinating black metal records this year. Woven into all of that is a cosmic, mind-altering atmosphere that takes the listeners somewhere else, some place cold and isolated. The five-track, 41-minute record (though the album is three tracks on their Bandcamp, as the two multi-part songs are combined) is violent psychologically, but there are other elements mixed into their style that make them spookier and spacier. It makes for a journey that arrests the mind, one that’s been rolling over and over in our heads ever since the music arrived in the inbox. It’s destruction and fury that will chill your cells and pull you into oblivion.
Guitarist Alex Poole took some time to answer our questions about “Eschaton Memoire,” explaining the record’s long road to fruition, what lurks behind the darkness of these songs, and how they balanced their desire to keep black metal’s roots strong without compromising their own vision. Our thanks to him and to all of Chaos Moon for a bloody, enthralling experience. (Nov. 17)
MEAT MEAD METAL: We’re naming “Eschaton Memoire” as one of our top 5 favorite metal records of 2017. It’s the band’s second release since the group was reborn in 2013. Do you feel like this album is moving you closer to the band’s true vision?
ALEX POOLE: I think the vision of the band has been firmly established to a degree over the 13 years Chaos Moon has existed. With “Eschaton Memoire,” we tried to take those elements and refine them. We wanted to harvest the feelings that were captured during our early days of discovering black metal while staying true to the sound of the band. Musically, it was a careful rebirth. This was also the first Chaos Moon album to have multiple contributors, and that definitely helped with the refinement process. Everything was analyzed. We wanted to take advantage of every moment without overcooking it.
MMM: There’s no denying the intense and enveloping atmosphere woven into the record. How important is that element to Chaos Moon’s sound, and what does that element represent?
AP: It’s the most important element. Dark and ethereal atmosphere is what drove me to black metal, the juxtaposition of that sound with the aggression of the rhythm section. That’s essentially what Chaos Moon is most of the time. We tried to develop on that more consciously on “Eschaton Memoire.”
MMM: The bio materials with the record state the record went through “various forms of transformation in order to summon the old spirit of black metal.” Talk a little bit about that process, what you were trying to achieve, and how listeners can hear that on the record?
AP: “Eschaton Memoire” went through three stages, or versions, of development. Version one was reworked into version two, version two was completely scrapped, and then we have version three, which is the current incarnation of “Eschaton Memoire.” The first two versions of the album were very … all over the place. A few stylistic changes, some weird math-y parts, a straight up death/doom song; it didn’t work. The second version of the album actually was 100% completed and submitted, but I started writing with Steve (Blackburn) for a split, and what we were coming up with was exactly what we wanted the album to sound like. Thus, version two was discarded. “Eschaton Memoire” is as close to a concept album as we’ve come, so the sound really needed to be consistent. Steve and I were on the exact same page, and we wanted to write something that captured what we perceived as the “old spirit,” but without becoming a second wave tribute band. We are acknowledging our roots while keeping completely honest with ourselves. Not playing on scenes or fleeting gimmicks.
MMM: “The Pillar, the Fall, and the Key” is a two-part cut that begins the record. What’s the significance behind the title, and explain a little more about the chaos we hear on these cuts.
AP: This is the realization of the “end.” The urgency and associated emotions that come with that and ultimately the beginning of the acceptance of death, which is pushed into the more somber track that follows. I won’t delve too deep into lyrical or title explanation, because I think it’s important for the listener to attach their own ideas, their own perceptions.
MMM: The record also is called “a violent eulogy for humanity.” Do you see this record as a soundtrack to the end times? Is that something you see drawing near or something you hope to witness and bring about with your music?
AP: End times on a universal level? No. It’s a metaphor for something much deeper, and I think it means something completely different to each member of the band. For us, it is a soundtrack of the end. What that end may be is subjective. Personally, I’m not too much concerned with the “human game.” We destroy ourselves over our ideals and habits, and will probably face some sort of extinction, but I’m not concerned with uncertain future.
MMM: What does the band have planned in 2018?
AP: Chaos Moon will slow down to let the album breathe but might have a few vinyl re-releases of older material, along with other merch available. However, we’re all involved in numerous other projects that all have material being released in 2018 via Mystískaos and Fallen Empire. Should be a busy year. Onward.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chaos-Moon/111626415515769
To buy the album, go here (U.S./Canada): https://www.blood-music.com/store-us/
Or here (rest of the world): https://www.blood-music.com/store-eu/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.blood-music.com/
And here: http://www.fallenempirerecords.com/