|Artwork by William David Pollard|
Moonknight returns with a new album entitled Valinor. As was mentioned in my label profile of Rising Beast Recordings. Moonknight is the Atmospheric Black Metal solo project of James L. Brown of Harassor fame. The growth from the first album, Toplov, to Valinor is tremendous. With each release he seems to get more and more comfortable with his style, and how to incorporate his influences into his music while making it his own. Valinor exemplifies this even more so than previous releases.
One of the first things you notice it that this is a very dark record. The atmosphere of the opening track is mid paced drumming, grindy guitars with an eerie synth sound over it. Vocals sit right in the middle of it all. The last few minutes vocals shift into a more Death Metal style and the music has hints of it also. Songs like "Broken Blade", "With Bright Knives" and "Aconitum" are among my favorites. They ooze sadness and depression. They take their time engulfing the listener in their melancholy. The buzz of the guitars is just right. Not too tiny and not too clean. He does this thing on "Broken Blade" that I enjoy and find a bit spooky. When the vocals kick there is a single keyboard like note played repeated over the top that just creates a cool feel
I also love the atmospheres he can create. Some, as mentioned, are dark and morose. But on a song like "Western Shores", the atmosphere is almost spacey, reminding me of Neptune Towers. The vocals on "Helplessness" are anguish personified. The main riff of the title track is so sorrowful it sounds as if the guitar is crying. It just tears through you. The whole album just gets to your core. James went through some tough times in the last year and this album certainly reflects that. I imagine that he, like many artists, find this to be cathartic and a way for him to work through his pain. For an artist to bare that pain for the listener to hear is brave, and that authenticity can be heard throughout Valinor.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]