Altars of the Moon - Brahmastra

06 Nov 2021 - Thorsten

Dark Shoegaze | Disorder Recordings | Release date: 20 Aug 2021

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Today and tomorrow you will get a triple-dose Jeff Wilson with this review and the next two. Jeff who? Well, one of North America’s most productive and well-respected musicians within the realm of dark, sinister, blackened music with a certain attitude that reaches far beyond the typical thunderstorms. His music is often highly atmospheric, very dense and with a touch of dark wave. Altars of the Moon and its one-track, 30-minute-debut is a wonderful example of that.

Conceived during the pandemic of 2020 (hopefully we will soon start many reviews like this, when the stupid thing is finally over) by Nate Verschoor of UADA (you can read our review of the last UADA record Djinn herehere) who then started looking for people to join him on this quest for a blackened Shoegaze record. Because that is essentially what Altars of the Moon is – Shoegaze but with a lot of elements from Black Metal and Dark Wave, in the form of lo-fi distorted guitars providing an immense Wall of Sound and a carpet of floaty, ambient synth passages.

Nate then got Jeff Wilson to join in, who added some guitar and bass lines and some synth passages. Jeff himself is known for participating in bands like Abigail Williams, Nachtmystium, Chrome Waves and Wolvhammer, not to mention his countless other projects, with Altars of the Moon and Contrition being the latest in his long oeuvre. Interesting is the fact that both never knew what the person next in line would contribute to the project, Nate had no clue about Jeff’s musical ideas and Jeff had no clue what Heath Rave of Wolvhammer- and Lotus Thrones-fame (you can read out review of the Lotus Thrones record here) would contribute vocally. And his vocals fit perfectly to this kind of cold, industrial-adorned, wide-enclosed kind of ritualistic music.

The idea behind the song is the old-ancient Hindu idea of a Brahmastra, a kind of super-weapon which could destroy basically anything on earth, like an old Hindu nuclear weapon attributed to Lord Brahma was said to be something like a giant fireball able to sent out thunder and lighting and shatter mountains and everything on this planet. In some way, the music even reflects the idea when we hear all the ascending elements in it as if we see a fireball rising above the earth, ready to fall down again and to come crashing down on our planet, destroying life, nature and everything in its way to complete and utter annihilation. The fact that the song never really falls into blastbeat-mode, never really turns into Black Metal or any adjacent genre, is pretty remarkable as that might have been one of the easiest things to do for the trio. This kind of restriction is parallel to the threat that this weapon poses to mankind, the band is not about displaying the sheer destruction but rather the possibility of it. In some way that makes this record a somewhat “cold war”-ish record, as the simple threat was oftentimes more important than the possible overkill-theory. Deterrence over destruction.

Altars of the Moon have created something that neither Nate nor Jeff could imagine because they didn’t write the song together, but the two and Heath all added immensely to a really tight longtrack which fits to the theme of an ongoing circle of deterrence, of structures building on and overlapping each other, always trying to outshine each other with yet another circle of “Cold-War-Warfare” the Hindu way. Let’s hope they come up with another two or three songs to fill a complete full-length! And now, next stop in our Wilson-trilogy: Chrome Waves!