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A graven nightmare, the thick buzzing found Moenen of Xexbeth's debut full-length Ancient Spells of Darkness… (the ellipsis is key) is degraded, as if it was unearthed from the acrid dirt beneath an abandoned shack. Without a doubt, this is intentional, considering the Belgian duo's aesthetic penchant for the lost-demo-era of the 1990s. Following in the ancient footsteps of (anti-)luminaries Beherit and Necromantia, Moenen of Xezbeth's bass-heavy, chilling black metal sounds like the stale air of an ancient mausoleum, or the pale fog which hovers over an unkempt graveyard. Listen to Ancient Spells of Darkness… below.

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This kind of primitive black metal is all about balance, finding a space between the putridity of ragged tone, with bass so fuzzy it becomes almost incoherent and guitars mixed so far back that they simply become part of the bass's overwhelming distortion, and the unexpected spiritual upheaval of spine-tingling, airy keyboards. This is the other side of the early 1990s, drawing down the moon in a flurry of third-generation dubbed tapes traded from one end of the planet to the other. Music which functionally rotted into an atmospheric oblivion defined the hyper-underground in this era, and continues its nightmarish undercurrent thanks to the efforts of bands like Moenen of Xezbeth.

Though this isn't the most original music in the timeline of black metal, excellent meditations on this oft-ignored, dessicated portion of the genre's evolution find themselves extremely welcomed, even lauded, and rightfully so. Originality isn't the point here, and it would be silly to try and imagine bands like this even attempting to sound modern. Moenen of Xezbeth, and, by extension, their side project Perverted Ceremony, keep the black flame of the very-early 1990s alive through sloppy, unkempt perfection. May it ever be.

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Ancient Spells of Darkness… is out July 1st on Nuclear War Now! Productions.

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Moenen of Xezbeth spiritually exists in an time before social media.

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