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Black metal acts like to play it obscure. Anonymous members. Wind-tunnel production. Unintelligible howling.

A little clarity makes the genre pop.  Crimson Moon exploit that fact on long-awaited third album Oneironaut. The grime never gets so thick that listener can’t imagine sole studio member Scorpios Androctonus picking his guitar. The upshot is, a little polish makes the band’s many twists and turns all the more audible.

For example, take the song “Urillian Worm”, streaming below. What begins as a relatively straightforward black metal jam opens up into a clean guitar passage with spoken word lyrics, then transitions into a slight but effective tempo change. A little keyboard accompaniment almost evokes personae non gratae such as Cradle of Filth, but only the best part of that band. The riff beginning at 3:07 is the truth, all midrange growl and vitriol while still retaining a pinch of Paul Allender-ish melody. Dynamic and playful, it would not be a stretch to call Crimson Moon “progressive”, and not just on this tune. Folk string instruments and hand percussion accent almost every song, and put Crimson Moon in a troupe of like-minded neoprogressive black metal acts like Cult of Fire. This turn of events comes as no surprise when one keeps in mind that Scorpios played as a live member of Zemial, and contributed to the latest album by Melechesh.

A bonus: Crimson Moon plays the vocals relatively straight, making the best use of guest vocalists like Robert “Ixithra” Cruzen, the man behind Demoncy.

Oneironaut will be available on December 6 via World Terror Committee and Dark Adversary.

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