Tuesday, 3 December 2013

AS WE HIDE THE MOON

Band: EISMOND
Tile: As We Hide The Moon
Format: 6-panel digipak on the Kristallblut Records label (Germany), catalogue reference KBR006, released in 2013.  The full-colour panels contain the lyrics for the songs.
Edition: Limited to 500 unnumbered copies 

Track listing:
01. The Wind that Shakes the Grass  20:30
02. The Name of the Wind  12:16                                              
03. Stepping Beyond  22:55
04. The Gilded Mountain  16:16

There is something large, grey and wrinkled in Castle Nazgul.  It sits in the corner of the library and glowers balefully across the floor at Nazgul as he taps away on his ancient typewriter (that's Nazgul tapping away, not our grey friend!)  Let me introduce you to 'the elephant in the room', a recent visitor whose arrival coincided with this review for Eismond's latest offering.

You see, many of the issues that were discussed in the recent review of Uruk Hai's new album "...And All The Magic & Might He Brought" could equally be said to apply to Eismond's latest offering, "As We Hide The Moon".  New personnel in the band?  Check.  New instruments in the mix, specifically guitar?  Check.  Use of lyrics and clean vocals where previously instrumentals reigned?  Check and mate.  

So what, you might very well ask, is Nazgul likely to do in this review: some form of 'brutal' hatchet-job, or something potentially hypocritical in treating this similarly evolved release with different criteria from that against which Uruk Hai was judged?  Time to shift that elephant, methinks, before he finishes the Castle peanut supplies...

First things first, though: what does the Kristallblut label have to say about this release?  They say this:

"Now, with their new line-up, they are ready to release their debut album "As We Hide the Moon" in the beginning of 2013 again on Kristallblut Records. Eismond play ambient space black metal. Deep soundscapes, filled with hypnotic guitars and drums, take the listener to a cosmical journey to the stars. Emotional deep music for fans of Elffor, Summoning, Paysage d´Hiver, Lustre, and Sieghetnar."

And that's actually quite a timely reminder, as the previous Eismond review here on Honour and Darkness featured the reissue of their first tape demo "Demo 1/2010" into CD format, which was re-titled on route as "Behind The Moon We Are Looking Into The Distance".  Technically, therefore, "As We Hide The Moon" is the first release proper by the project, and so presumably sets the musical template for those to follow.

Second things second: who exactly is this new member?  Step forward Jaron (vocals and guitars) to complement Hugin on keys, programming, and guitars. Jaron is in fact Jaron Evil (aka Vultyrous) of Archspire, Funeral Fornication, Ringbearer, and Almuric renown.  We've come across Funeral Fornication before with their split album with Uruk Hai, and a future split release between Uruk Hai and Ringbearer is apparently in the pipeline too.

Before Nazgul's own thoughts, what does the media at large make of this very nicely presented digipak?  Well, the internet is not exactly awash with reviews, but two stand out as having something of interest to say.  The first comes courtesy of Dimiarch of Metal Soundscapes      

"Austrian atmospheric space ambient blackened metal band Eismond has finally released its debut full-length album "As We Hide the Moon". The band was formed in 2010 by Alex Wieser, who is also behind many other mostly ambient related projects, like Uruk-Hai, Hrossharsgrani, Elisabetha, Bonemachine, Hrefnesholt, Wach, Manwë and others. After some demos as a solo project, Jaron joined the band in guitars and vocals (the project was mostly instrumental before) and Eismond released their first album in 2013 via the German label Kristallblut Records, who also re-released their first demo re-mastered with bonus tracks.

Eismond’s music was always inspired by the mystery and beauty of outer space and the secrets hidden in other worlds, with a preference in our planet’s satellite, Moon. Their music is down tempo, with atmospheric synths, a few distorted background guitars and various experimental sound samples, giving you the impression that everything moves slowly, floating in zero gravity. There are 4 very long compositions, each one over 12 minutes (2 of them are actually over 20 minutes) and the whole album lasts for 72 minutes. The presence of lead melodic guitars and solos in some selected parts adds a very warm touch in the songs. This time there are a few whispers and some clean male vocals, enriching even more their sound, but it’s true that the album still gives the impression of an instrumental work. 


I’d like to comment the wonderful melodic vocal parts in the first song 'The Wind that Shakes the Grass', which are really epic! The closing track 'The Gilded Mountain' is their most heavy song so far, with more distorted guitars and a few screaming vocals. "As We Hide the Moon" moves in the footsteps of the demo album, but is more solid, interesting and well produced.

Fans of ambient space atmospheric music could find Eismond a very interesting experiment. Their somehow 'blackened' atmosphere could also attract a metal audience and of course all those who like Alex's other projects, since there are some common elements with most of them. "As We Hide the Moon" is released by Kristallblut Records in deluxe 6-panel digipak with all the lyrics and beautiful artwork of alien ice-covered rocky landscapes. You can visit their official profile for more info and sound samples."


Meanwhile, in Fatal Underground ...

"...their debut album is described by them as Ambient Atmospheric Black Metal Experimental. Broadly speaking one can agree, although the Black Metal portion is little more than a low level default. Created here is an almost continuous very gentle, atmospheric sound world, which has a hint of psychedelia . Some people near me draw comparisons to " Pink Floyd.  I'll place special emphasis on the guitar work, which presents itself in different variations: at times the riffs seem very cold, sometimes slightly distorted and sometimes even really aggressive (and it's here where perhaps the best stab at Black Metal can be seen). On the other hand, sometimes the guitar elicits almost 'warm' tones.  Other parts create an enormously atmospheric ambience. The drum sound is tasteful and adheres rather profoundly to make an extremely important contribution to the building of songs in this huge atmosphere.  

The sound consistently ranges around and very occasionally you will sometimes roused by harder or louder passages. A super, brilliant disc!  Assuming you like on this kind of music it can absolutely relax you and take you into a world apart from the everyday . Simply beautiful and super relaxing!"

And where does that leave Nazgul and his visiting elephant?  In a healthy state of mind, to be honest.  A change in personnel so early in the project's life really just sets them down what appears to be a very palatable path, and the added soft vocals of Jaron enhance the songs immensely.  The fact you can follow along with the lyrics printed on the panels of the digipak is handy too.  It is a very relaxing experience, and one that should be a compulsory part of NASA astronaut training to familiarise them with immense spaces.  Rather than being a strange and semi-intrusive change to the project's direction, it comes at a timely juncture and is executed really well. 

Good to see a significant label like Kristallblut getting involved in the release too, which should raise the profile of the band and allow for better distribution and sales than even some of Hugin's more established projects are used to.  It beggars the question as to how the completely awesome Drachenfeuer release "The Realm Of The Light" still hasn't seen a major label release though: it's a funny old world.

The artwork on this diogipak leaves one in no doubt of its outer space leanings, and indeed the inclusion of flying saucers reminds us of some of the strange types that live in the cold and desolate Alpine regions (anybody remember the bizarre tale of one-armed Billy Meier, of Bülach, Switzerland?)  Whether this music is the content of choice on the CD players of beam-ships from the DAL Universe is yet to be established, although they could do far worse to make the crushing bore of intergalactic travel less onerous....

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