Secrets of the Moon have put out an album that creates a new genre: dooth metal. It’s doom metal that occasionally speeds up towards death metal, but doesn’t go all the way. Dooth. The final song totally goes into a slow, moody, later years-Pink Floyd feel, and at other times they play rock-flavored music. So it’s not the same thing all the way through the album, which is good.
The tempos occasionally speed up, but not to Dethklok speed. Sometimes riffs which really thrash appear, where the palm-muting is fierce and punishing. But those moments are rare, and the album stays mostly in the doom tempo range–slow.
My review surgery will skip the first half of the album. I was inspired to start writing by track 5, when I was no longer peaking. The first half of “Privilegivm” is good enough to put me in a trance. The songs flow like water. They have an organic feel. Riffs come and go, and they’re usually played for just one section of each song. If a riff does repeat, it’s usually played differently the second time. The song structures are more akin to separate musical pieces strung in succession, rather than the repeating pattern, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-out. Innovative songwriting.
Track 5 (Harvest [Part I: I Forgive Myself | Part II: The Tree Of Life | Part III: Exsultet]) is awash with dread. It’s all dark. There’s nothing happy about this music. The guitars relish the dirge, and the lyrics reflect on thoughts of forgiveness. Then, the music turns into pretty straight metal. This album is almost total doom. It’s pleasing to the ear for this metalhead. The music is slow and mystical, at the risk of being boring to fans of punk or even mainstream metal (I played it for some punk friends at my bar and it just made them tired). The drummer really likes to do the double bass kick at dooth speed. This music is for strict fans of doom metal. The vocals are either spoken-word, or low register, death metal growls. Riffs repeat for long periods of time, thoughtfully. I like the end of this song, where the distortion slowly peels off the rhythm guitar, and the drums and bass fade out at the same time. 13:28. Damn that is a long song. We’re talking Tool’s “Third Eye” length there.
Track 6 (For They Know Not) starts more vulnerably and desperately. It’s more of a sad riff, and even a major scale makes an appearance in power chord form. There’s lots of distortion and minor-key melodies that wash over you, then suddenly two clean guitars are plucking clean, pretty notes, and an occasional high hat rings out. But just for a moment. Bang! Distortion kicks back in. All the while this is going on very slowly. Doom. Into the fourth minute, we’ve got a really cool slow riff, totally Melvins-influenced. Then back into the dooth metal. By the seventh minute, we’ve got black doom metal with staccato picking on the guitars, which I really, really like. Black metal usually has its place in the avant garde, and here it makes a very slick appearance amid a dooth tempo.
Track 7 (Queen Among Rats) is very doom. Minimal and depressing like doom metal should be. The song starts to speed up at the end of the third minute, and the mood starts to get sort of hopeful, and then, like a false start, we’re back into the slow doom. It’s like you’re running, running, running, then you fall off a cliff. It’s hilarious. I think the band meant it to have that effect, in some small, twisted way in at least one band member’s mind. But it doesn’t take long from there to speed up again, and this time the speeding up becomes more of a doom-rock hybrid (not dooth). It’s got downtuned guitars, but they’re playing in a rock style. The vocals are still total death metal, and at the end they become coupled with what I think is female spoken word. Why is it that women’s voices sound so awesome and soft under a thick blanket of black, deathly metal? At the seventh minute the guitars are doing fast picking, the drums are fading, fading, and not in a volume way, they’re just becoming disjointed, unorganized. It’s a very cool drone thing… then bang, we’re done.
Track 8 (Descent) is a guitar-layering drone experiment with a single snare drum playing steadily and minimally over the cloud of guitars. It feels like flying over a war on the ground. The fighting is hidden under the cloud of dust it’s picking up, but you can hear it.
Track 9 (Shepherd) starts with singing! Holy crap! It’s very anguished. The guitars are clean, slowly plucking single strings; the drums are soft(er). It’s like a ballad, a dirgy one. Then a total David Gilmore guitar solo comes in! fUCKING sWEET! Then it all slows down to just one guitar playing one sad, rising chord with lots of reverb. This is cool stuff. They’re taking their time, and it’s making me very relaxed. Then the guitars and drums come in hitting this very cool rhythm together: bang! Rest, bang! Rest, bang! All together. And it’s in a major key. Then the drums get a little more complicated, the vocals come in. A very natural way to make a song build in an unexpected way. Then we’re into some Castlevania-type music, with synth and more doom, then back into the previous cool riff, but they take it somewhere else. It’s a different type of doom metal–there’s not so much bass action; it’s more rock-oriented. It seems this band really can mix genres. Then they slow down back to that awesome Pink Floyd-type riff. Actually it has almost exactly the same feel as Pantera’s cover of Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” You know, on the “Far Beyond Driven” album? Really stoner-oriented.
Then the album’s over and I’m left with my thoughts. “Privilegivm” has taken me to heights of black mysticism, anger, doom and dooth metal. It wasn’t annoying, either. One thing this band has got going for it is an organic songwriting sensibility, and a musical maturity. They respect the riff, and are very particular about how their riffs fit together. They like to repeat themselves a lot, and the songs are long. A pleasurable listen. Not for cokeheads or hyper people. They can go listen to Animal Collective or something.
01 – Privilegivm
02 – Sulphur
03 – Black Halo
04 – I Maldoror
05 – Harvest (Part I: I Forgive Myself | Part II: The Tree Of Life | Part III: Exsultet)
06 – For They Know Not
07 – Queen Among Rats
08 – Descent
09 – Shepherd