Crimson Moonlight - Divine DarknessI was relatively surprised to find I wasn’t yet acquainted with Crimson Moonlight. Party to the ‘unblack’ metal scene emerging in the latter 90s in Scandinavia, their Swedish roots stretch back to the infertile earth of 1997, associated with the relative popularity of the likes of Extol and Antestor in their unorthodox fusion of black metal with Christianity. The 19 years since their first demo has only seen 2 studio albums and Divine Darkness is their first in 12. This leaves question marks over their contemporary relevance and lack of recent experience with the project: would they be able to harness the anachronistic spirit of their unblackened origins, wherein Christian black metal was almost as sacrilegious as black metal itself?

Divine Darkness doesn’t sound remotely fresh, which I suppose answers that question in the affirmative. They still peddle 90’s era black metal with a touch of melody, though there are few death influences brought to the fore for this release. It’s surprisingly brutal, with pummeling percussion and vicious vocals which fluctuate between shrieks and growls. There are a few bits which demonstrate their blackened death working well, such as in the opening of the title track: an airy trem-picked lead overlays the groovy rhythm guitar, accentuated by Gurra’s skillful drumming. Passages effectively transition from groovy death riffs to those which are more melodic on “The Suffering,” and the down-tuned, moody intro to “Dusk” evidences an additional facet to Crimson Moonlight‘s repertoire. The sawing intro to “I Am Tribulation” grabbed me too.

The observant among you may have noticed that all these examples sit at the start or in transitional periods of their respective tracks. They’re the moments wherein the song-writing is at its sharpest and most diverse, and the genuinely excellent musicianship shines. Gurra behind the kit deserves a particular mention, as does Johan’s bass work (pleasingly audible in the mix). They lead me to conclude that Divine Darkness is best when it’s dynamic – and to conclude that this characteristic is conspicuously absent for the remaining majority of the album.

Crimson Moonlight - 2016

Aside from these highlights, the album becomes an indistinct haze of aggressive blast beats and forgettable riffs layered on top of each other, infinitely exacerbated by the production which is about as clear as Donnie Darko‘s plot. I think dreary is as good a descriptor as I can conceive, indicating the ennui which inevitably set in as I bullied myself into the requisite numerous listens. There’s really not much more I can say other than you’re a stronger person than I if you can listen to this for more than 6 minutes without your eyes glazing over.

Ultimately, does Divine Darkness stand out from the many other black metal, death metal or blackened death metal bands in existence? Does it recapture that perverse sense of rebellion from when Christians were first making black metal? The answer is a resounding no and a resoundingly permanent deletion from my library.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Endtime Productions
Releases Worldwide: February 26th, 2016

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I clicked play on the embedded track and all I could think was ‘hurrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’

    Which I think is a fairly accurate summation of my opinion on this. Brilliant review, El!

    • El_Cuervo

      Why thank you, my friend

  • AndySynn

    On the plus side, this has reminded me to go listen to “Omen” by Antestor again, as I love that album/band.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      I don’t think they ever released a bad album. Brilliant band.

    • Pedro Morini Mietto

      Thank you for this suggestion, sir. This is good music which I wasn’t aware of.

    • Josh

      As a fan of Antestor, “Omen” is at the bottom list of the band’s discography. “The Return of the Black Death” or “Martyrium” are classic everyone should hear.

      • AndySynn

        As a fan of Antestor, “Omen” and “Martyrium” are their best albums.

    • I heard The Return of the Black Death a few times out of curiosity, but when I eventually started picking up the lyrics from the music, I found it unbearable to listen to.
      The Forsaken has got both symphonic and folk elements that might have pleased me, but I’m generally boikotting black metal with christian contents, as I despise religion.
      Omen doesn’t sound half bad. Time somebody converted these misfits to Satanism.

      • Frost15

        Satanism is as dumb as theism. Rational atheism/agnosticism is the only logical conclusion. I can listen to christian, satanic, whatever you want to believe without proof themed metal. I don’t give a shit about the message as long as they aren’t trying to impose it through force.

  • herrschobel

    lallala llalalal lalalalalalaaaaaaalalllalalll

  • Gabriel PérezMolphe

    I think the main problem with the majority of christian rock or metal is that the music is secondary behind the “message” they try to tell, and ends up usually being totaly generic and boring.

    • Robert Turnbull

      Even as a Christian I have to agree with you on this. While I appreciate the lyrics of many a Christian band, I do wish they’d make some good music to go with it.
      At least Cattle Decapitation (I’m vegan too) wrap their message well!

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • HMG


  • Zadion

    Brilliant review. I was interested in the “unblack metal” scene, but unfortunately never found these guys remotely interesting, so I guess this doesn’t surprise me. Too bad. I sincerely wish there were more religious-oriented bands that actually played good music.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Theocracy is awesome, but they’re a power metal band instead of a black metal one.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        I thought I was gonna like Diviner, but their CD got boring and repetitive after like three plays.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Check out I Am, it’s an incredible record of theirs.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Wow, that what AWESOME!Those guys are insane musicians! Like the Christian Dream Theater. Granted, the lyrics were rather preachy and repetitive, but the song was still really cool. Not like many non-christian power-metal bands are pinnacles of lyrical strength anyhow. I may just have to buy this album. Thanks for the rec!

    • Josh

      “The Covenant Progress” (2003) by Crimson Moonlight is a killer album. Another option is Antestor. Try “Martyrium” (1994).

  • Felchmeister666

    Amusingly crap band name. Same kind of random shit I used to think up back in the mid nineties for my stillborn musical project. Autumn leaves, Crimson tears, Dusk twat, whatever…any old cliche.

    I guess my point is, I’m not surprised this is shit..

  • Reese Burns

    I’m out.

  • Wilhelm

    Unblack metal, how dumb.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    The suffering is a good name for this track. Isn’t there something in the bible that forbids christian metal … Can we look into this.

    • Extol should get a pass due to having never released a bad album, and a couple of excellent ones. Believer released a classic thrash album. The rest of the Christian bands, not so much.

  • Grymm

    True story… years ago, when I was a teen living in New Hampshire, I was listening to Zao, and my brother kicked my door in and yelled, “FWAAAAAAAAH!!! KILLAGOATFORSATAAAAAAAAAAN!!!” Once I explained to him that Zao were a Christian band, he said, “Oh,” quietly excused himself from the room, shut the door, and then kicked my door in again, screaming “FWAAAAAAAAH!!! PETALAMBFORJESUUUUUUUUUUUS!!!”

    That was my story.

    Oh, and this song sounds horrible.

  • Frost15

    Completely disagree with this review. This should be a 3 – 3.5 rated album. I’m not a christian, but I do like a lot of christian themed metal, even if i don’t get the message. ‘The Forsaken’ by Antestor is a masterpiece, everything Extol has released is beyond excellent and I like Crimson Moonlight albums too. Pantokrator has a good album also. I think many of you are kind of biased, but that’s my opinion anyway.

    • Agreed, this album is really good.