Under the Pagan Moon

Trying to get some new faces into the scene, this compilation brought out many of the undernoticed bands in the mid-1990s black metal scene.
Under the Pagan Moon
Production: Varies in strength and volume within demo range to decent.

Review: Obscuration - "Novembre": Melodic extension to black metal with a doom sensuality that maintains darkness and romanticism in the gothic school without adopting that aesthetic, this track upholds savagery in playing and vocals but uses harmonious pop- and goth-influenced composition underneath a rough black metal aesthetic to achieve its atmospheres.

Ember - "Forever Beautiful": Inspired by Darkthrone "Transylvanian Hunger," this song consists of shifting melodies over uneven beats and driving, windblown chaos percussion and while versed in death metal technique seems focused on an atmospheric black metal sound.

Medieval Demon - "Dark Widow": Wrought from jubilant hardcore music merged with black metal lead riffing styles in the same breath that was early Graveland, this release focuses on shorter melodies like death metal with black metal harmony. It is reasonable, but suffers from a lack of melodic expansion.

Profanum - "The Serpent Crown": Epic churning tonal crossover in the style of Graveland and Lord Wind opens this song in layers of keyboard, and then grinding guitar noise under running keyboards and an evocative chantlike rhythm in black metal vocals carry the work to its conclusion. A deft sense of theme and texture make this track memorable even though it is from the "we wish we were Emperor" fan club.


1. Malkuth - The Great Black Goat God (5:58)
2. Bishop of Hexen - To Begin The Quest Towards The Noble Dark Cause (4:43)
3. Obscuration - Novembre (4:21)
4. Ember - Forever Beautiful (3:06)
5. Medieval Demon - Dark Widow (4:54)
6. Profanum - The Serpent Crown (8:39)
7. Melechesh - Planetary Rites (5:09)
8. Ragnarok - Ni Fuil An Sabras Athraged Death (5:03)
9. Avatar - Hymn To The Ancient Ones (5:05)
10. Moonblood - I am All (7:22)
11. Solstafir - (5:55)
12. Crimson Midvinter - Us Mere Mortals (3:40)
13. Grimoire - Immortal Warrior Spirit (3:42)
14. Songe D'Enfer - My Lady Princess of Hell (Conjuration to Gorgon) (5:32)
Length: 73:11

Under the Pagan Moon Black Metal Compilation
Copyright © 1996 Cyclonic

Avatar - "Hymn to the Ancient Ones": Sentimentally self recursive and thematically direct, promoting a sense of return to origins, this track leads with harpsikeyboard and somewhat rock-n-roll stitched rhythms before exploding into lush and dramatic guitar/keyboard/voice interaction in the style of the first Gehenna album or older Enslaved.

Moonblood - "I am All": Racing detour through melodic chords of a simple nature in a basic song construction, this works but does not reflect much of the band, although in the style of newer bands like Triumphator or later Gorgoroth it delivers speed thrills absent in much of the "Experimental" stylings found in post-1998 blackmetal.

Solstafir - "Til Valhallar": Discursive unraveling black metal in the style of fast melodic bands like Impaled Nazarene or Antaeus, Solstafir veer between rigorous boundaries of battery rhythm and racing expansive freedom in churning, expanding riffs.

Crimson Midwinter - "Us Mere Mortals": Mainstreamish fast black metal in a Marduk school tinged with the keyboard emotion of a Dimmu Borgir if given a darker context, as the oscillation of these melodies at collapsing intervals chases an abyss found mostly in aesthetic, which is underscored by the hard rockisms one would expect from a rock-n-roll band.

Songe D'Enfer - "My Lady Princess of Hell (Conjuration To Gorgon)": Darkly longer melodies and dissonant junctures emphasize the recycling emotion of this piece, a churning sense of loss and morbid emptiness rendered in aggressive black metal with a longer focus and hence less visible rhythmic conflict, and while marred by rock-n-rollisms formidable as a lucid piece of music.

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