Moonreich – Fugue (2018) REVIEW

Dissociative fugue is a slowly reversible amnesia of one’s own identity, a lapse of self that comes from separation and trauma that can become perpetual without professional guidance. Before cognitive behavioral therapy was widely used as treatment, patients afflicted with this rare disorder would be sedated heavily and interviewed intensively for hours. It isn’t much more than a greater distressed version of waking up away from home when on a trip and briefly forgetting where you are. Although Parisian black metal musician Weddir pulls a lot of influence from classic Scandinavian black metal and shifts Moonreich‘s line-up every few years, each of the project’s four full-lengths carry a distinct thread of identity from ‘Loi Martiale’ in 2011 to their latest ‘Fugue’.

Active since 2008 Moonreich play a semi-melodic form of black metal that began resembling post-millennium Marduk and evolved towards their own unique and somewhat accessible sound with each release since. Some smaller stylistic similarities to bands like AldaaronDødsfall and Enthroned exist but these are largely incidental melodic comparisons and don’t account for the modern progressive metal influences and generally accessible verve of Moonreich‘s releases since ‘Terribilis Est Locus Iste’. With his third album ‘Pillars of Detest’ (2015) Weddir almost exclusively employed studio musicians and his greater vision explored increasingly unique avenues within black metal; For ‘Fugue’ his exploration threatens to escape black metal’s stifling orthodoxy entirely with even broader, bolder strokes outside the lines.

The glowering martial influences of Moonreich‘s earliest releases still act as a black hole to dissolve into between extensive atmospheric sections; “Fugue Part II: Everytime the Earth Slips Away” is one of the more extensive and emotive performances on ‘Fugue’ and the listener is given some great reprieve with the twisted riffs and blasts of “With Open Throat For Too Long”. Though composition and modern precision are the pillars of today’s Moonreich, none of it would work as well without some greater sense of balance in the track list. Overwhelming and occasionally cruelly sterilizing, the post-‘Panzer Division Marduk’ blast still steers the boat no matter what dynamic motion the ocean churns with but at no point is ‘Fugue’ a bland wall of noise.

“Heart Symbolism” is perhaps the most accessible track of the bunch with it’s mix of memorable melodic lead guitars and groaning Forgotten Tomb-like swells. Though these moments are pushed along by urgent drumming and a myriad of guitar ideas a lot of ‘Fugue’ feels trapped between a need to explore melodic metal ideas and a duty to create brutal black metal. Because the style expressed reads somewhere between expressive extreme metal (Misanthrope) and alternative metal (Gojira) I found myself zoning out when the more chuggy, simpler sections began to become more frequent and the melodic songwriting lost direction. None of this really becomes an issue until the final two tracks of the release, so even if I have some small amount of conflicting feelings they don’t distract from the majority of the experience.

With only some small caveat do I recommend Moonreich‘s latest. If you haven’t followed the band since ‘Loi Martiale’ then ‘Fugue’ will sound like a true modernization of that sound made even more accessible. If you jumped on board in 2015 with ‘Pillars of Detest’ then this will feel like a logical, if not slightly unexpected progression. I find it admirable to hear the project reaching deeper still towards their own sound and finding it the majority of the time, though I do feel it may be time to shed even more of the black flame and further explore this talent for melody, atmosphere, and guitar technique. If you were to preview any two songs from ‘Fugue’ make sure at least one of them is “Heart Symbolism”.


Artist Moonreich
Type Album
Released June 15, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on LADLO Productions’ Bandcamp! Follow Moonreich on Facebook
Black Metal

Souffre par tout le corps. 3.75/5.0

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