Secrets of the Moon - Black House
Lupus Lounge
Gothic Rock/Metal
9 songs (52:16)
Release year: 2020
Secrets of the Moon, Lupus Lounge
Reviewed by Goat

Moving away completely from the progressive black metal explored on previous albums, Germans Secrets of the Moon have embraced gothic rock here to the point where there are barely any harsh vocals at all, with zero blastbeats or any black metal elements. Hell, it's hard to even describe this as metal at points! It's quite a drastic change, hinted at on 2015's Sun but finalised here, making Secrets of the Moon now closer to Fields of the Nephilim or even The Cult than the Satyricon and Triptykon days of yore. And does it work? Indeed, Black House shows its new coat of paint off well. Songs are varied enough within the gothic oeuvre to be distinct from each other, opener Sanctum having more of an upbeat, The Cure-y feel with Phil Jonas (here using his real name instead of the previous sG moniker) providing gloomy but not untuneful vocals. There are plenty of guest spots, vocalists Jules Näveri (ex-Profane Omen) and Thomas Helm (Empyrium, Noekk) providing backing vocals here, keeping your attention rapt despite its five-minute-plus running time, shared across most tracks on the album.

That's the main fault here, that there's a lot of material which can drag a little at points. Fortunately this is rare; all credit to Secrets of the Moon for having enough songwriting experience to keep it all flowing well. Highlights are frequent, the more atmospheric and spookier Don't Look Now and He Is Here like a more serious Type O Negative with well-placed backing male and female vocals and contrasting well with the surrounding tracks like the more danceable Veronica's Room. The band do this consistently to keep things feeling varied, another example being how the gentler Cotard with its acoustic guitar and proggy touch is placed next to the most 'metal' track present in the title track, having notable riffs and even a guitar solo as it builds in doomy fashion with subtle guest vocals from Jarboe.

Another notable guest spot is The Ruins of Beverast's Meilenwald, providing relatively harsh vocals on Heart in the album's most sinister moment and the only real indication here that they were ever black metal. Which is fair enough; past reviews noted that Secrets of the Moon had become settled in the style they were playing then, so it's not really a shock that the band wanted a change. And they are undeniably good at gothic rock, although whether multiple albums in this style would work or not become repetitive is an issue that will have to be revisited in the future! For the moment, Secrets of the Moon's embrace of eyeliner and gloom more than fits them, and goths and fans of dark rock will enjoy this.

Killing Songs :
Don't Look Now, He Is Here, Black House, Heart
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Secrets of the Moon that we have reviewed:
Secrets of the Moon - Seven Bells reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Secrets of the Moon - Priviligivm reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Secrets of the Moon - Antithesis reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
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