Secrets of the Moon - Priviligivm
Lupus Lounge
Progressive Black Metal
9 songs (1:05:26)
Release year: 2009
Secrets of the Moon, Lupus Lounge
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

I’ve been looking forward to this album for quite a while now, after I discovered the bleak darkness of previous effort Antithesis. As I said in my review of that, it’s sad that so many Black Metal bands toe the line so faithfully when an entire world of experimentation awaits their misanthropic gaze; ironically, Secrets Of The Moon haven’t reinvented their sound for album number four, but as the press release points out, neither is this a sequel to Antithesis. Instead, this is both a step back and a step forwards. The same militaristic precision as before is easy to see from Priviligivm, but it’s more refined, more experimental, at once heavier and catchier. Recent Satyricon reworked is perhaps the best way to describe it, but Secrets Of The Moon have much higher goals than mere groovy catchiness – this is more akin to a Rebel Extravaganza than an Age Of Nero – and Priviligivm is a deep and complex album that rewards repeated listening, revealing more of itself the more time you allow it. That black-skinned apple on the cover is a good metaphor; something quite disturbing lurks just out of view...

Exactly what awaits you, however, is intriguingly hard to describe. I used the word ‘progressive’ in the genre tag without hesitation; this is a leftfield album indeed, although it’s so wonderfully subtle that it’ll take a few listens to understand why. The rigid song structures of before are still present and correct, but the songs are both less repetitive and more hypnotic. Look at the centrepiece of this album, the thirteen-minute Harvest in all three parts, flowing perfectly and never for a second letting you feel bored, from the unaccompanied drums that open it through the ominous build-up, all the way to the riff-driven grandeur of the closing section. The majority of songs are of a restrained tempo; never does this band shift gears into true speed, never is there Mardukian blasting. If speed and rawness in Black Metal are the howls of hatred against life, then Secrets Of The Moon provide the grim-faced scowl, which is much more effective than the directionless bile of their peers.

Although songs are never quite catchy, they are easy to listen to without sacrificing heaviness. You won’t find any obvious hooks present, but the band clearly know what riffs sound good where, and the guitars drive the music; keyboards are subtle if present at all, whilst the drums blast a complex militaristic backing. Vocalist Daevas left the band in 2007 leaving no founding members, but it’s hard to get worked up about that as SG does a great job on the microphone here, and new bassist LSK (also of Antaeus, Merrimack, Hell Militia, etc) proves that more women should become involved in Black Metal as she provides a resounding depth to the sound. As ever, drummer T. Thelemnar (also of Antaeus and session for Krieg amongst others) is wonderful at what he does, the backbone of the band and a damn fine drummer too.

This is an extraordinarily well-crafted effort that screams its sophistication at you; to take one example, the percussion and melancholic melody of album finale Shepherd brings proceedings to a close with style, something many bands are simply unable to do. Of course, the likes of first track proper Sulphur are driving, head-bangingly terrific piledrivers that react wonderfully with Doom-fuelled breakdowns and grandiosely melodic interludes – not to mention a killer solo, something that Satyricon badly needs in their sound. Priviligivm is the kind of album that I could return to every week without it growing stale for a good long while, full of excellent songs. The band have outdone themselves; this is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys original Black Metal that takes time to reveal all its secrets, but enthrals from the first play.

Killing Songs :
Sulphur, Black Halo, I Maldoror, Harvest, For They Know Not
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Secrets of the Moon that we have reviewed:
Secrets of the Moon - Black House reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Secrets of the Moon - Seven Bells reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Secrets of the Moon - Antithesis reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
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