Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Moaning - Blood from Stone (1997)

Not only is Blood from Stone one of the better melodic black/death metal albums you've never heard of in that crowded Swedish scene, but it's also got one of the finer covers out there, a creepy forest scene with a color palette that rivals your Somberlains and Storms of the Light's Bane. And I make such comparisons on purpose, because while they don't sound exactly like the late Jon Nödtveidt's creative offspring, that is the first band I think of when I recall the detail they often put into their riffs, the blend of savage floods of dark chords sliced through by these waves of well composed melodies that add balance and completion to what otherwise might get a little monotonous or boring. Hell, there's enough breadth here that The Moaning will also appeal to fans of melodeath like Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates and earlier In Flames.

The emphasis is on faster material, from the blasting depths of "Dreams in Black" to the majestic clip of "A Dark Decade's Rising", but they round off the album enough with some slower to mid-paced rhythms that they won't come across as a one-trick pony. But it's clear that this is the zone in which they are most comfortable, so they spruce it all up with that great sense of unerring melody, adept at picking note patterns that will keep your glues eared even if you grow exhausted with the blasted drums. The bass is pretty solid, the percussion of the late Andreas Nilzon well on par with most of his peers in the scene. The vocals of Pierre Törnkvist have a nice, bloody rasp to them not unlike a Tomas Lindberg, but pitched a bit deeper and not as snarly. But as good as this is, it's the guitar tone and playing which really steals the show here, you are just hammered with great riff after great riff. I'm not saying they are quite as interesting as you'd heard on the first two Dissection albums, but if that band had put this one out instead of the lamentable Reinkaos, it would have hit cult classic status with ease.

Very unfortunate that this is a one-shot, because the album sounds fantastic, and once you've heard it good and loud you'll have no question of the Swedes' potential. Most of the members have been involved in a number of other bands like Helltrain, Devil's Force, Gates of Ishtar, Satariel, Battlelust and The Everdawn to name a few, so it's possible this was never meant as more than a fun collaboration, but I can say with confidence that this is superior to all of them, and I'd have loved a follow-up or two. The album was good enough to be re-issued through Century Media about a decade ago, so you can probably find it out in the wild, but if not, and you HAVEN'T already heard it, go and stream it and see what you've been missing. Legendary? Perfect? Maybe not, but it hits so many of the right buttons that I can't imagine you'll be disappointed.

Verdict: Win [8.5/10]

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