"Valinor", the new album by LA's depressive black metal entity Moonknight, whose cloak hides the creative mind behind the project, Horus aka Lord Foul who is also (as many of you out there already know) in the barbarian blackened trio, Harassor.
"Valinor" is the third and probably most intimate album in Moonknight's discography, he's been releasing some splits and EP's as well, and after a first listen, I immediately realized that this new release sounds a bit different from the previous albums "Toplov" and "Ligeia". Yet it's true that many moons separate this new material from the oldest, so evolution came naturally. The first thing I noticed is that the tracks in "Valinor" don't sound as raw and menacing, no. But soundwise speaking, there's still a link between them, that fuzzy and murky sound is still Mooknight's trademark although it now seems to weep instead of waving his sword and going out on a killing spree throughout the night. And still he lurks in the shadows but instead of that sword he now holds his cold, dying grey heart.
"Valinor" embraces sorrow allowing it to drag slowly through mourning and grief territories. Opening track "An Initiation" starts out with some kind of a droning buzz where soon those seesaw guitar riffs spread out and give way as the perfect greeting card opening way further into the album. The vocal is still harsh and follows the same style as heard in Moonknight's previous works, a screaming mixture of anger, distress and pain. While tracks "With Bright Knives" and "Aconitum" drags us deep into the somber pit of sorrow, "Helplessness" is a bit more cold-blooded and brings to the surface a bit more of that anger that flows in the veins of Mooknight. But don't keep your hope, soon we're pulled down again with "Pleasure Funeral" and the beautiful "Broken Blade" that to me is just one of the best tracks featured here, the environment created by this track is absolutely dreamy and so, so cold. It really can pull our mind into the most haunting and desolate of Winter landscapes. Very in the likes of bands like Thou Shell of Death if you seek some comparisons. Beautiful atmosphere. "Western Shores" is served as a cold instrumental and is the perfect motto for another great and best track here, a track that gives name to this album. I can sense that "Valinor" is very personal, not just by it's lyrics but soundwise and how the whole track is constructed. All about personal feelings that surface from time to time. Personal and intimate experiences that are locked down inside our cold hearts. The notes of "Valinor" sway and takes us gently inside the cold heart of Moonknight, there we can almost see a little glimmer of light, a light that keeps on burning and keeps Moonknight alive in order to deliver us the best depressive bleak tunes. I swear to God that I got goosebumps the first time I heard this track. The melodic notes in the middle of the track are simply beautiful.
"Valinor" is another great milestone into the discography of Moonknight and also very worthy of your attention. It's just how depressive metal should be, cold, bleak yet served sharp barbs. No life, no joy, no fun.
"Valinor" will be out soon through Rising Beast. Keep an eye out for both digital and physical editions.