An Oneironaut is "a person who explores dream worlds, usually associated with lucid dreaming." Here to tackle the subject from W.T.C. Production's ever growing roster of impressive black metal bands (Ascension, True Black Dawn, Shrine Of Insanabilis) is U.S./German project Crimson Moon. Fronted by Scorpios Androctonus (Acherontas, Demoncy, Melechesh, etc.) and with the help of a few friends, Crimson Moon's third album is 4 years in the making and a force to be reckoned with. Lyrical concepts include the Necronomicon, Sumerian lore, astral projection, old goddesses of worship, and spiritual transcendence to name a few.
Black metal bands inspired by mysticism are a dime a dozen, but Crimson Moon knows how to channel these forces, or at least our representations of them, directly into the music. Even ignoring the lyrics completely (and you'd be hard-pressed to decipher these blackened shrieks) the baleful melodies carry volumes of unsettling imagery. It's musical witchcraft. And furthering this magical atmosphere are various exotic instruments, some of which I have never even heard of before: Esraj, Frame Drums, Tanpura, Cretan Lyra, and fretless acoustic bass.
But more often than not, what grips me the most are the simple guitar hooks. Amidst the blazing tremolo lines and folky, acoustic interludes are some very enticing cuts that call out to me like a will-o'-the-wisp. Usually consisting of only a few slowly picked notes, they are placed so caringly at just the right moments to give each song a very memorable identity that might otherwise be lost in the blizzard of blastbeats. The approach reminds me of Akhlys or Awe. You'll hear what I'm talking about from the very outset with the stunning "Gossamer of Arachne." Aided by the haunting monk-like backing vocals, the opening riff is a foreboding warning of things to come.
"Molding of a Spell" and "Weaver of the Web" are also easy favorites, but no review would be complete without mention of the 20 minute finale, "Oneironaut." It's a fantastic out-of-body walk through nightmares that I'll leave you to experience for yourself. This is certainly one of my favorite black metal albums of 2016. While not as artistically challenging as Schammash's Triangle, it rivals that album in terms of atmosphere and consistent presentation. The vocals, instrumentation, compositions, production, and even album artwork are all absolutely on point. Buy this album today, and watch for live performances coming to Europe in the coming months as well as promise of a split release in 2017.