Lunar Blood - Twilight Insurgency (Album Review)

Feb. 15, 2022


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Formed back in 2020, New Jersey’s Lunar Blood takes the pick scrapes and chaotic riffing of black/death metal and injects a healthy dose of hardcore into it, with punchy riffs and cavernous vocals ensuring that you won’t come away from their debut full length Twilight Insurgency unscathed.  While there have been plenty of death metal bands leaning on hardcore elements and bringing some HM-2 tonality with it over the past decade or so, those falling somewhere between black and death while also incorporating all these elements hasn’t been quite as common.  And though they may be less than two years old, this debut showcases a band that already understands both the power of the riff and the brute force needed to draw in fans of this style.

What drew me to Twilight Insurgency almost immediately was how they take that familiar HM-2 tone and weaponize it, drawing upon plenty of Swedish death metal influences but also bringing black metal melodies and bass lines that have a bit more of a blackened sheen.  Songs like “Parliament of Trees” have scorching death metal grooves and blasts but start to twist over towards that dark and desolate black metal atmosphere by the end, while others go full war metal with pick scrapes and unrelenting blasting.  The injection of hardcore elements inject some moments that just make you want to move around and start destroying everything in your path, and it’s during these sessions that Lunar Blood reminds me just as much of bands like Trap Them, All Pigs Must Die, and earlier Black Breath.  With the songs emphasizing equal amounts of catchy grooves and destructive riffing without the instrumentals adding in unnecessary filler or dragging on, there’s a moment on many of them that will have you hitting the repeat button so you can get scorched all over again.  Even when they do take a break from the attack on “Ululating in the Depths”, you’re still met with a hellish and nightmarish soundscape that suits the overall tone of the record, and I wouldn’t mind if future recordings offered a bit more of this.  There does remain room for Lunar Blood to expand upon all these individual metal styles and twist them even further, but they’ve already nailed this mix of black, death, and hardcore in a way that’s genuinely infectious.

The instrumentals may bring a slew of metal and hardcore/punk styles to mind, but the vocals come through a bit more rooted in death metal.  You do get some higher screams and yells that have a bit of that black metal tone, but most of the performance is oriented towards low and guttural growls that are drenched in a healthy amount of reverb.  It’s an approach that works to Lunar Blood’s advantage, as the screams and growls have just enough space in the mix to breathe and when they do break through you realize just how distorted and gnarly they sound.  There’s a consistent amount of intensity on every song and I can imagine that this would come through just as in your face in a live setting.  Lunar Blood brought along a few guests for closer “Pig Hunter”, as Lex from Sunrot and Scot from Organ Dealer contribute their own brand of screaming towards the end that adds an extra dose of extremity to the album.  The only downside I’m not crazy about is the overuse of samples, as the group opens a few too many songs with them and some of them pull me out of the listening experience.

It’s rare for a band like this to come out of the gate with such a complete sound and so many stand-out riffs, but that’s what Lunar Blood has done.  They’ve left themselves with room to grow and expand upon any facet of black/death/hardcore in any manner they see fit but have laid the type of foundation that will keep listeners coming back regularly.  It reminds me of the type of destructive yet undeniably catchy qualities that Black Breath and All Pigs Must Die had on their debuts before switching things up later in their careers and may just be one of the better debuts you’ll hear in the first half of 2022.  Crank this one up and let the destruction commence.  Twilight Insurgency is available from Pulverised Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg

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