MOOR’s first full length album Viper Kingdom opens strong and solid with track one ‘Lepers Among Us’ and only goes the direction of strength to strength from there.
Track 2 ‘Viper Kingdom’ would be a massive crowd pleaser live for sure and is my pick of the album; coming in at 7.02—the longest track by almost two minutes—it puts all aspects of MOOR’s talents on display, be it a straight-up demonstration of black metal credentials or showcase the unique aspects Halfdan Svarti brings.
MOOR—it surprised me to discover after already hearing the album—is for all intents a one person project the brainchild of Svarti. Though Halfdan does make a point of saying on the album’s bandcamp page:
‘Special honors and thanks to Arne Østensen Gandrud for recording drums for the entire album! He is a true legend and this album could not have been done the way it was done without him. He played a big part in direction and pointers and not just in recording the drums.’
It’s not hard to hear why such an accolade is given, the drums powering the album forward are relentless and deadly serious about it with every beat.
This is the black metal of a rock ‘n’ roll variety that Venom demanded everyone lay their souls down for. Hints of early Motörhead present on track 3 ‘Spawn of Moab’; a track that opens like a black metal fine wine, before reaching a section fit for a mediaeval wedding and finally concluding with an essence of Queen.
Track 4 ‘Barren Hills’ is a moment of stark inner turmoil lost in the foreboding depths of a sharp granite quarry – I almost had to turn the heating on listening to this one!
Track 5 ‘The Back Foe’ is a rampant number with nuances galore that constantly teases the listener into thinking it’s found its mark only to then head off somewhere new before concluding with the surprise touch of piping itself out.
What has gone before is blistering in bounds, but don’t let that stop Track 6 ‘Moon and Totem’ upping the ante to a whole new level of cohesion from chaos: a cleansing and cathartic barrage almost relentless but for managing to pluck moments of bleak serenity from within the onslaught.
‘The Vile of Necromancy’, track 7, is doomy and gothic; a macabre slow dance of dark moody sea and blood red sand: the first constantly slipping away helpless and anguished, only to come desperately sweeping in again, hungrily trying to consume the other entirely in its embrace; while the latter remains statuesque, as though ignorant of the sea’s efforts, harshly indifferent to its suffering.
Track 8 ‘Land of the Hairy Barbarians’ is a riff-roaring, foot stomping, ale chugging, tankard banging Scandinavian opus fit to herald any epic journey’s end. Though hopefully this is only the beginning for MOOR (one I wouldn’t be surprised to see go an ULVER-esque direction).
Viper Kingdom was mixed and mastered by The Metal Crypt; album art and logo design by Grafit Hamu.
Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan
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