The freezing wind behind Skaði’s spear — Before wintry dormancy halts the heated decay of much needed change, passage of time in hoarded respite beyond harvest centers us beneath the huntress’ viper and its eternally dripping venom. That is to say this seasonally affected droop of the skull splays open the part of the brain that receives solemn dissociation and hungers for the eternal lineage of doom out of sheer cathartic necessity. Swedish epic doom metal is yet the most luminant choice, practically a sub-sect of power metal at deepest impetus yet unmistakably its own form of existential unrest and stylized sound beyond. Southern Swedish (Skåne) epic heavy/doom metal duo Void Moon have long kept the shadow of their sonic ancestry held tightly spooled nearby to be woven into their own fantastic legacy. At no point in the past have they appeared as close to securing a distinct identity than here on their third full-length, ‘The Autumn Throne’.
Now achieving their third album within their third four year cycle, Void Moon would form back in 2009 as a Candlemass influenced side project between musician Peter Svensson (Furnace, Assassin’s Blade) and members of his long running traditional heavy metal project Cult of the Fox. Their discography might appear fairly inconsistent due to different line-ups and circumstances for each release but folks who’ve some considerable appreciation for epic doom metal will sit well with any of their full-lengths. Original vocalist/guitarist Jonas Gustavsson, had been well featured on the first (‘On the Blackest of Nights‘, 2012) and second (‘Deathwatch‘, 2016) Void Moon records but is a bit overshadowed by his successor, Cult of the Fox drummer/co-vocalist Marcus Rosenqvist who proves a bit more genre apropos as a replacement thanks to his over the top vocal delivery. This meant the band’s next EP (‘Ars Moriendi‘, 2018) had been well met in my case; If “Pale Fire” was the direction the band were leaning into next, I was into whatever came next. This has more or less manifested going forward though Void Moon is still easiest to compare with early While Heaven Wept, Doomshine, Forsaken, and earlier Isole. Polished but not “modern” epic heavy doom metal in the spirit of power/doom metal, extravagant movements certainly evocative of late 80’s Candlemass. I might provide some perspective to know these bands intimately before approaching ‘The Autumn Throne’, at the very least check out Svensson‘s other projects, but this time around it’d be just as meaningful to take this third Void Moon album as a first with a new line-up with refreshed focus from the two musicians that represent a pared back line-up for the project.
Never entirely defeated but often in the throes of devotional ode or dramatic announcement, the allure of ‘The Autumn Throne’ begins with what is perhaps the most effective piece Void Moon have penned to date, “Feels Like Hell”. It may be a linear poem, a salvo that forms a clear narrative peak to fit its lyrical revelation but this is generally in the realm of ‘Tales of Creation’-sized presentation and panache, at least to my ear. Rosenqvist makes an incredible series of first impressions as his tone soaks into the bones of this first half of the record, presenting a cold yearning mythos that is yet tunefully achieved without heavy reliance upon vibrato for interest. “The Raven Will Not Return” was initially the “most Candlemass feeling” moment on early listens but this is where those references to epic heavy metal, mid-80’s power metal, and acts like Doomshine become important alongside some clear admiration for Grand Magus‘ true metal spirit, at the very least their second album. These are all single-worthy features, strong heavy metal songs that pull the listener into Void Moon‘s world but it is probably “Realm of Indigo” and its strong use of repetition & expressive folkish heavy rock influenced chorus that makes this song vital point of hook for the listener. If you’re not enthralled by the album at this point you’ll find this is one of two major peaks that come early on the tracklist, it isn’t all downhill from here but when the title track hits its first chorus the record’s dramatic thrust has hit the ceiling.
For my own taste ‘The Autumnal Throne’ is massively front loaded with all of its best pieces; As we reach the just OK push of “Afternoon Towing” and the unsure balladry of “Of Wind and Cloud” the momentum of the full listen dissolves to the point that our exit from the running order, “To Outlive Myself”, is both stunningly achieved and somewhat belabored. ~45 minutes is nonetheless the exact right length for a pure heavy/doom metal album of this sort and this keeps any one song from fouling the larger impression. I did, however, skip “Of Wind and Cloud” regularly after a certain number of full listens. Void Moon‘s third album is yet haunting in reflection and gloriously dramatic in motion, a nigh exemplar bout of Swedish epic doom metal that isn’t flatly typical in expression but also never quite reaches a point of true devastation or divinity. The hymnal quality of each piece speaks both to the traditions of epic heavy metal and doom metal but also of simply arranged devotionals redirected towards pagan gods. The vibe is easy to catch and the missteps are few as the dance of ‘The Autumnal Throne’ remains satisfying on repeat for its yearning, slow-going connection. A moderately high recommendation.
|TITLE:||The Autumn Throne|
|LABEL(S):||Sun & Moon Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||November 26th, 2020|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
|GENRE(S):||Epic Doom Metal,|
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