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Moss - Cthonic Rites

When reviewing a CD like the latest from Moss, the so-called Cthonic Rites, it is extremely difficult not to resort to cliche or hyperbole in describing said album. Face it folks; metal-heads (and doom fans in particular) for all time have been bombarded with this or that new band that is supposedly the heaviest, darkest, fastest, or most evil. Much like that new car, things are left in the dust by innovation and progression almost as soon as they roll off the presses. Because of all this, I am struggling to adequately describe just how heavy and evil Cthonic Rites really is. Let me try...

Cthonic Rites is (and this is the most basic description here, just pure musical jargon and nothing else) the slowest, most unnerving and traumatizing music to have been created in some time. Most people have taken to calling it simply "extreme doom" but I'd warrant phrases like "torture doom," "black hole doom," or "prehistoric crust doom" would work equally well. All that is really splitting-hairs, and the fact remains that the sounds oozing off of the Cthonic Rites disc are some of the most plodding, down-tuned, daemonic pandemonium ever committed to tape. This is definitely a love-it or hate-it affair; most people will reject this as boring, repetitive noise, and a select few will be able to immerse themselves into the filthy, barely thawed universe of sub-zero black ice this CD was spawned in.

I happen to be one of those folks who enjoy this kind of music, and here is why; beyond the fact Moss pay homage to great bands ranging from Grief and Thergothon (both of which are fairly new to me, but sound somewhat similar to this), they also manage to capture the buzzing, droning hypnosis of acts like Sunn-O))), Khanate, and Burning Witch and transform it into something a little bit more varied. Most interesting is the length of this disc and its two tracks. Together, the two songs encompass a symbolic 66:6 of bleak, apocalyptic doom. Both songs are so slow, hypnotic, and equally grim that they almost run together in some ways, and this isn't the kind of CD you'll hum a portion of every now and then. Rather, Cthonic Rites is a heartless, agonizing moment of existentialism. You could almost think of it as being tortured to death slowly and painfully, and being able to think of nothing but your most basic senses. After all, when such pain is present, what need is there for anything but trying to get out of it with the settings present?

Opening song "Crypts of Somnambulance" sets the mood and atmosphere perfectly. At a grueling twenty-one minutes and seven seconds, the song's open, absurdly low blasts of trudging doom are like a machete being slowly dragged down your chest. Cutting you slowly, the tune doesn't offer any reprieve from its crushing depression. Vocalist Olly Pearson has without any doubt in my mind the most nihilistic, caustic shrieks I've ever heard. In keeping with the band's Lovecraftian overtones, drummer Christ Chantler takes top honors here, almost existing in his own separate universe and keeping a diabolically determined beat that never once wavers in its creepy simplicity.

Guitarist Dominic Finbow has meanwhile mastered the art of smothering victims with layer after layer of ashen, black doom so incredibly heavy you really have to hear it to get an idea of what dark tones can exist in the recesses of the human mind. All-in-all, "Crypts" will seem like one hell of an experience, but in truth, it is perversely mocking foreplay and little else. "The Gate" is over twice as long as "Crypts" and basically wipes the floor with it. In other words, things go from wicked to downright hellish. I didn't think that the band could play things even slower, darker, and heavier than on "Crypts" but my expectations were trampled under the mammoth footsteps of whatever beast this song summons. Imagine having gravity multiplied by a factor of a thousand and this is how utterly flattened you'll feel.

This will by no means ever be a favorite CD of mine, the soul reason being it is simply too insane and brutal for its own good. Despite this, Cthonic Rites is something very special indeed. In a twisted, morbid kind of way, a CD like this would be very fun to space out or brood to. In fact, this disc actually flies by so hypnotic and absorbing is its abysmal music. Get lost in the void and dream dark dreams.

Track Listing
1. Crypts of Somnambulance
2. The Gate



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