After 20 years of occultic black metal illumination, Secrets Of The Moon summoned gothic forebears on 2015’s divisive LP, Sun. The corpsepainted conservatives baulked at the Fields Of The Nephilim, David Bowie and Dead Can Dance influences that seeped in – their appalling lack of historical awareness of the sonic kinship between both movements obvious. Others, though, welcomed a fantastic album that was more Bauhaus than beholden to their past black metal stylings.
Half a decade later and gothic lamentations in extreme metal are more popular, thanks in part to Tribulation’s mercurial rise. On Black House, SOTM have fully spread leathery wings to ascend, by completely immersing themselves in 1980s goth and death-rock scenes. Opener Sanctum rivals The Cult’s anthemic sway, yet sounds contemporary by retaining a dark metallic sheen with a biting charge towards its end.
The post-punk pound of Veronica’s Room and Earth Hour suggest an introverted Grave Pleasures, while Don’t Look Now presents a dead- eyed Bowie in its sinister take on new wave. He Is Here, Cotard and the instantly memorable title track form the album’s fulcrum and bravely showcase epic goth balladry to rousing effect. Those three tracks, together with the downcast and often delicate Mute God, might send some curmudgeonly fans weeping atop of their spiked gauntlets, but SOTM have opened their sound to appeal to a vast number of music fans – and have done so without compromising their arcane ethos.
This alluring album will therefore act as an opaque gateway for open-minded metalheads to discover an alternative, all-consuming form of aphotic gloom. If there’s any justice in this virus-riddled world, when the dust settles and Secrets Of The Moon get the opportunity to perform these songs live, their cult will grow as wide as the band’s lofty ambitions.