Aerial Ruin Seeks a Lost Flame on New Album “Loss Seeking Flame” (Review)
The first time I heard Aerial Ruin was in late summer 2013, at night at home on a weeknight after everyone else had gone to bed. I had some time to myself that night, which was a rare occurrence, and I had spent the evening listening to quite a few new releases. I was planning to put the next album on and do some housework.
I started to play the split/collaboration Aerial Ruin / Stevie Floyd (Stevie of Dark Castle and Taurus) and didn't read the description before I put it on. At that time I was assistant editor for this site and was getting about ten promotional emails of new music each day, often more. It would have been a full-time job to do nothing but listen to all of the music that was offered to the staff. I was going down the list and clicking play without reading about what I was listening to first.
When the album opener "Where The Shadow Stands" started, all my plans of doing housework ceased. I sat down on my couch and just listened for the next 45 minutes. Each time I get to hear a new Aerial Ruin album for the first time is an experience similar to this. I set time aside where I'm not working, not cleaning, not cooking. Time where I can absorb it.
Aerial Ruin is the solo work of Portland, Oregon-based Erik Moggridge. Outside of Aerial Ruin, Moggridge's work may be more familiar as a collaborator with Bell Witch, or if not that, then as part of Old Grandad, Drift Of A Curse, or '80s thrash band Epidemic. Stygian Bough Vol. I, the Bell Witch album that came out in 2020, was a continuation of other collaborations between the artists, but was effectively Moggridge's introduction as a third member of the band. Also in 2020, Aerial Ruin released a split LP with Panopticon, which led to Moggridge contributing a guest vocal on Panopticon’s much lauded 2021 album ...And Again into the light.”
Each of Moggridge's projects sounds different, but each benefits from rhythms that ebb and flow, guitar work that is powerful yet drifts, and a voice that somehow lands on a frequency that opens a door in time. A review of Stygian Bow Vol. 1 on Metal Bandcamp says that the trio dilates time and pulls you into some other realm. That's exactly it. Time slips away when listening.
In contrast to Bell Witch's ghostly imagery of trapped souls, Moggridge is more about the journey of self and of the mind. On this album of four songs that total 42 minutes, including a 21+-minute closer called "Ideation," he sings about things that can only be revealed after ages, epochs, and eons. Where your choice will lead you when the end can not be seen. Crumbling stone. How shadows change when suns fade. What you see when the veil is lifted. What happens if the saviors don't save you.
The way Moggridge's voice floats over his guitar playing, it would be easy to hear these songs as mournful, especially when he sings lyrics like these from the opening song "Where Sky Lays Buried":
An end of passage a leave from rage
Will still elude you through journeys age
But there awaiting neath leaves of sage
The words of prophet thus bound in page
The words of prophet thus bound in page
Will words of prophet now fall away
With no more struggle to know the fray
These verses lead right into verses one and two of the second song, "Thus Bound in Page," which are quoted from Kahlil Gibran. But then Moggridge wraps up the beauty and terribleness of life in the way that prophets can't: "But you are light, wherever you stray / And you are night and vanishing day / And you are flight if ever you fray."
Moggridge's guitar playing music feels familiar in a way that someone who likes the mellower stuff of The Who ("Behind Blue Eyes") or Pentangle would be able to appreciate. The violin on the closer "Ideation," is composed and performed by Andrea Morgan, a Portland-based violinist who plays with Exulansis and has collaborated with other metal acts such as Eight Bells and Maestus. Here, the spaciousness of the violin and guitar evokes the Dirty Three. The song seems to swell to its climax 10 minutes in, but then floats on for another 10 minutes. There's no dynamic end as waves of sound crash on the shore. There's no eruption of beating wings. There's no battle cry. The melodies simply continue to unfold, releasing as a thread of silk might levitate on a breeze. Maybe that's why this music always seems so meditative. Maybe there is no end. Maybe it just is. And Moggridge somehow taps into that, and gives us all a glimpse.
Loss Seeking Flame will release March 4th for preorders and March 9th for full release. The album was recorded by Lot 3 Audio and mastered by James Plotkin. Art and layout by AK Wilson.
Aerial Ruin is playing a record release March 26th in Portland at High Water Mark, where he will be performing the album in its entirety with Morgan on violin for the song "Ideation." Moggridge is also playing Litha Cascadia in late June and will be booking other Northwest shows soon.