Oneironaut is the new album by Crimson Moon, this project’s first full-length in more than a decade and only the third since its inception in 1994. The album is an imposing, hour-long work, with five of its six tracks exceeding 8 minutes in length, including the closing title track, which nears the 20-minute mark. But it’s also one of the most captivating, most multifaceted, and most compelling black metal albums you’ll encounter this year, even as it comes when 2016 is about to gasp its last breaths.
Oneironaut is being released today by W.T.C. Productions, and to help spread the word of its advent, we have a full album stream for you.
Crimson Moon began as the solo project of California-based Scorpios Androctonus, who has also worked with such groups as Acherontas, Zemial, Demoncy, Melechesh, and Akrabu. In 1998 Scorpios relocated to Germany, where he has remained.
Although later Crimson Moon releases included an expanded line-up, this new record was once again written, performed, and recorded entirely by Scorpios, with guest appearances on certain tracks by members of Acherontas, and Demoncy, and by Ralph Santolla (ex-Deicide, Death, Obituary).
With so much time having passed since the last album, and with Crimson Moon’s creator now having accumulated so much experience and so many ideas, it will perhaps come as no surprise that the album is like a wall-spanning medieval tapestry, intricate in its weaving, detailed in the depiction of its ideas, and exotic and imposing in its overall impression.
A listing of the instruments used in the album’s creation provides clues to its richness. The instruments include the Esraj, Frame Drums, Tanpura, a Cretan Lyra, and fretless acoustic bass, as well as unusual uses of acoustic guitars and the grandeur of sweeping symphonic keyboards. All together, Crimson Moon deploys these ingredients to create a rich cornucopia of sound.
There is also a mystical aura to the music, a core of spirituality that shines through it, even though it is highly dynamic and varied. Lyrically, we are told that the topics range from traditional Necronomicon-inspired myths, Sumerian lore, astral projection, and lucid dreaming to ancient goddess worship, the survival of the fittest, and spiritual transcendence.
And in its sound, the music is rapturous and raptor-like, spellbinding and serpentine, poignant and perilous, bleak and bombastic, luminous and lethal. At times, it takes the shape of incendiary black metal that burns like an all-consuming arcane flame. At other times it’s hypnotic and hallucinatory, like a drug-assisted ritual. At still others, it’s a mind-bending, eye-popping labyrinth of twisting, turning instrumental extravagance. It becomes chaos incarnate, and it just as successfully ensorcels the listener with soulful and seductive spells of strange and mesmerizing power and depth.
It’s hard not to use the exalted term “visionary” for music this burgeoning with ideas and overflowing with varied experiences, but don’t think that means the album is pretentious, nor does it come across as something coldly calculated or manufactured, like some disjointed assemblage of odd parts. Despite its complexity and the breadth of its sounds, it paradoxically conveys itself as an organic creation, and it’s quite obviously full of passion and heart, even at its most flamboyant and vicious.
Yes, Oneironaut requires a significant devotion of time, and it’s best experienced without interruption or diversion of attention. But it’s so fascinating, so immersive in the multi-hued spells that it casts, that it richly rewards the time you give it. It comes so late in the year that there’s a risk it will be overlooked, but I sincerely hope not. It’s a truly wondrous work that deserves widespread attention and acclaim.
P.S. Do not be daunted by the length of the title track. It fully earns its time and is the most radically diverse — and the best — of these six very strong tracks. It includes an extended acoustic instrumental segment that brings to mind visions of North Africa and regions to the east, and might be worth the price of the album all by itself.
In other Crimson Moon news, Scorpios has assembled a live line-up and will be booking shows for 2017, in addition to recent live appearances. Crimson Moon is also working on new material for an upcoming split release, with more new music to come in the next year.
Oneironaut will be released by W.T.C. Productions on CD, with vinyl treatment coming at a later point. Order here: