Band – Feast of the Witch
Album – Under a Sinister Moon
Country of Origin – Ireland
Genre – Black Metal
Release Date – July 21, 2023
Label – Fiadh Productions
Author – Hayduke X
Under a Sinister Moon is an incredibly well conceived debut from an anonymous solo black metal artist from Ireland. The use of the word ‘sinister’ in the album title is an apt choice, as the album as a whole feels dark and disturbing – quite sinister, if you will. My initial impression of the work was one of utter obliteration, a metal gauntlet of an album crushing the skulls of its enemies. While there are certainly significant parts of the album where this holds true, with waves of punishing riffs over relentless blasting, and a very forward-in-the-mix vocal attack. It can be quite disorienting, to the point of being musical horror, which I assume is the purpose.
Further listens have allowed me to evolve this opinion of the album, however. There are many nuanced subtleties to the album which initially escaped my notice, as I was reeling from the pummeling. Tempo shifts, haunting keys, occasional strings, and more contemplative passages offer a full, gripping world where the witches are rightfully in control. Think of wandering through a thick fog. Initially, all you notice is the fog itself, but as you acclimate, you notice more, and often quite haunting, parts of the landscape around you, though still shrouded. And yes, this metaphor was inspired by the subtly disturbing album cover.
The album starts with a haunting introduction that calls to mind the horror movie The VVitch. Then, Obliterate Us All kicks in, doing exactly as the song title promises. Midway through, there is a pause for chanting and what sounds like it might be knife-sharpening. Further songs on the album follow unique paths, though with similar nuances. One of my favorite parts comes at about the 3:15 mark of Where the Light Cannot Reach, where the relentless driving chaos pauses for some contemplative guitar, which is eventually and briefly layered by violin. Magical! (Or perhaps sorcerous? Magickal?)
Under a Sinister Moon blew my hair back, as the saying goes. Azaketh has crafted five tracks which feel genuinely powerful. Enjoyable is the wrong word here, though it quickly became a favorite album for me to spin. It certainly moves me in ways I’m not sure I completely understand. The promo material I received compared the album to early Darkthrone, which seems a fair comparison. They’re not re-inventing the black metal wheel here, but are certainly using the component parts in an impressive way. Watch for this on my list at the end of the year. It’ll likely be in the single digit range.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. He is also a contributor to The Metal Wanderlust. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.