With unnamed members hailing from Belgium, France and Switzerland, a cover that is loaded with arcane symbolism and a single track making up the band’s debut album, it is fair to say that Ancient Moon are something of a mysterious proposition. Clearly keen to leave the music to do the talking, the band are an unseen force, not unlike the dreaded Ringwraiths, visible in form only and all the more terrifying for their lack of substance. The album, meanwhile, offering up its single track, is an exercise in dark magic, with each of the band members credited not only with an instrument but also with ‘ceremony’, the latter presumably referring to the quasi-religious vocals that lie deep in the heart of the sonic murk.
‘Preastigitum Altareas’ is a work of supreme confidence and conviction. A searing, icy indictment of humanity, it takes its time to build to a crushing tsunami of noise, with a single icy riff opening proceedings. When the band do expand the palette, it is to unleash feral riffs and mechanistic percussion, all washed over with a production job that throbs with bass and sizzles with treble. Brutal and uncompromising, it is made all the more disconcerting by monastic chanting that emanates from the depths, the band engaging in a perverted ceremony that mocks faith and makes a farce of religious worship. Cold and inhuman, there is no redeeming feature for those not inculcated into the ways of black metal to hold onto and this is as extreme as it gets, the band blazing away in an effort to conjure the darkness and shroud the earth in obsidian blackness. With the music ebbing and flowing across the thirty-minute run time, the feeling is very much symphonic in nature, with the music moving subtly form one mood and form to the next, and the result is a piece of music that is compellingly deep and dark, and you have to admire the band’s ambition in refusing to break the piece up into separate tracks for ease of consumption.
In a world increasingly ruled by commerce and conformity it is always admirable to come across a band who do things entirely on their own terms, unruffled by a desire to please the masses or dumb down their art. Clearly this is a project of great importance for the members of Ancient Moon and, as such, it has more in common with art than commercial music. With it’s dark, ceremonial artwork and semi-heard incantations, ’vvltvre’ is a mysterious and evocative piece of music that maintains its dark atmosphere throughout. For those with a taste for the extreme, ‘vvltvre’ is a must.