LUNAR SPELLS: Demise Of Heaven
Release year: 2022
Label: Northern Silence Productions
When the promo sheet states the band are from Greece and mention “old school”, I’m surely not the only one to stop reading and think of Rotting Christ, Varathron and the likes. A second reading – one where you actually read the promo sheet properly – dispels any such illusions: Scandinavian old school is what Greek Lunar Spells is about.
Honestly, the classic Greek sound is one of the best regional black metal styles there is, and modern, newer proponents are too few. Sure, an act like Caedes Cruenta – and a few others – have done sterling work, but there’s room for more. Lunar Spells don’t wish to fit that bill, though. So let’s stop talking about the classic Greek sound and dig into Demise Of Heaven, Lunar Spell’s second album.
Old school certainly fits the bill, as does Scandinavian. Once again we’re dealing with an album where originality is a strange word. The Greek trio have decided to tread well-worn paths and forge their craft in the footsteps of the masters of yore.
What this means in Lunar Spell’s case are ferociously buzzsawing riffs, speedy tempos, ominous keyboard passages and viciously croaked vocals. Sounds like it’d describe a legion of Scandinavian-style bands? You’re damn right it does. If we’re to single out one particular name, I guess it’d be Emperor during the In The Nightside Eclipse era.
Encyclopaedia Metallum describes Lunar Spells as raw black metal. The inclusion of synths might, on the other hand, lead one to think of symphonic or melodic black metal. Both are off the mark. The riffs are, in all their tremolo-picked frenzy, quite melodic in a classic style. But not melodic in the melodic black metal sense. And the synths have a purely supporting role, which means they’re never too much in focus or take control of the song.
So, originality’s in the bin. What about that other significant – the even more significant – factor? Quality, of course.
Well, here Lunar Spells do a better job. Though quite derivative and heard-it-all-before in nature, Demise Of Heaven is a very adept piece of traditional nordic black metal. The band has a knack for nicely flowing songs where frenetic sawing finds a good balance with melody, and whilst not exactly progressive or complex in nature, the songs are much more than straight up repetition of the same riff and drum pattern for five minutes.
Add to that a sound that’s right in the classic vein – slightly tinny, with a distinct lack of bass, but not thin or weak, resulting in a sharp and vicious tone – and quite adept, vicious shrieks, and you’ve got a very decent album at hand.
From the cover to the logo to the sound to the music itself, everything about Lunar Spells screams “traditionalist black metal”. Forgiving and forgetting the lack of originality, if a dose of that 90’s nordic sound, maybe with a hint of latter-day Finland to spice things up, is what you crave… well, give this a chance.