|Eyes of Ligeia, what a name…Heard so many times this name, rumored and mumbled within the doom circles throughout the internet "society", never have I heard actually any musical material by this one-man band, though. I approached reviewing this album rather negatively-biased, after I had read Kostas' review of some previous work by Toby Chappell, the man behind Eyes of Ligeia, so I had been expecting yet another dispassionate, utterly faceless so-called "Doom" album of sorts…|
...Boy, have I been wrong...
To equalize my predisposition, I read the review done with Mr. Chappell on the excellent Erebus Music Archive, an in-depth intriguing interview that has revealed to me what deep a persona is this Toby Chappell, how much is he unorthodox in his methods of experimentation and the exploration of new sounds, new musical expressions, on his perilous, time and mind consuming, philosophical journey towards this album…and what a fucking album 'What the Moon Brings' has turned to be...
Having said that, this recording has proven to me - has rooted in me firmly - the belief that a serious music writer must not, need not, judge music upon first listen, ever. Not music that bears potential qualities (to be explored and judged later if eventually found) which are rarely found in nowadays music, and into it - in (Doom) metal music. I was on the verge of disappointment all too familiar and tragic never-the-less, when I felt a strange affinity to the thin, lazy, brooding sounds of decay and eternal night, beckoning me to hit the play button yet again, after which - this disc has not yet left my CD player, and for days up until writing these very words, my hunger for this album has not yet been satisfied. Only album such as 'What the Moon Brings' - according to my own, direct and personal knowledge of so many years of listening to music - that fail to leave a strong impression on initial spin, and work their way, their mysterious way, towards one's sub-consciousness and finally to the consciousness and beyond - only those albums are eternal, as they will accompany the listener for many years as one’s shadow, they will be tasted and tested, they will be touched and gently caressed, they will endure the test of time and passing trends, for they are energy and wisdom thus they have no beginning nor will they have an end...
A problem: this album, this music is full of contradictions, a paradox upon a paradox. I’ll explain.
What I have encountered is the most peculiar, ultra-thin sound that I have found not easy to accommodate to (read: extremely difficult to digest on initial listen). The production is barren, is a wasteland of almost-demotape quality, and into that, as if had been recorded in a dungeon or a cellar; damp, cold and completely unfriendly for the recording artist (Note: even the music sounds not very comfortable with its own vile sounds...). The production is actually what makes this recording interesting (Note: extremely interesting music although repetitions and endless loops are in abundance. A paradox once again...) and so very unique, because Mr. Chappell has accomplished something extraordinary here, something mysterious and totally bewitching with this recording, sound-wise/production-wise. The dark blood-red gothic structure that is portrayed on the album's cover, the full moon above it, almost completely dark, the pitch-black night, the scenery altogether - desolate and artificial at once - are all fine visual manifestations of the music on this disc (or the other way around, maybe?). You may want some comparison data, to inform you what other - more "famous" bands - this band sounds like, so you could maybe relate to the music more easily, have an idea (An advice: don’t be lazy and download a sound sample from anywhere...) but I'll leave it at that, in generalizations and vague ideas about what this recording really is. You should explore this album on your own, without a single drop of prejudice, you should free your mind from its shackles and let the music take you to those legendary Lovecraftian cities and darkly lit romantic landscapes found in Poe's mystery stories... If you do that, the music contains herein will reward you with anything music is capable of...
The paradox may lie in that sense that the music itself sounds organic and "warm", even "human" (or "humane"). The keys are played in a very Seventies manner (think of Deep Purple Jon Lord's organ and how it sounded), the guitar's fuzzy, almost distortion-free sound is very non-metal in nature and more of a rock/post-rock style (again, Seventies psychedelic/progressive rock bands' guitar sound would be an adequate description) the drums are... The drums are really funny and weird sound-wise. They have been recorded in such a fashion that they sound so dry and thin and "shallow", as if they have been programmed by a very bad drum programmer on a very bad/cheap electronic drum-machine, but the effect is enough, for they accomplish their purpose efficiently and quite well-matched with the overall eerie and stripped-down tunes this recording holds within.
Indecipherable, half-whispers/half-growls - all half muted, as are the other instruments - are what really link this recording to metal music in general, for if not for those vocals, the music itself - although slow and repetitive - will be regarded as some ritualistic/shamanistic guitar oriented dark ambient or some really dark and haunting post-rock of sorts... See, this is darkness, this music is hollow, a death ritual and as original as can be reflected from a unique musician's soul and psyche.
The music is far from being heavy in the immediate, mundane sense of the word in a metal-music context, but it is so "empty" (and yet, so full and satisfying, thus paradoxical in an inexplicable manner), so atmospheric in nature, so mysterious and sombre, that only this brooding darkness - dense, dank, suffocating and disturbing - is more than enough to "fill" the heaviness gap with something which is more essential and important than heaviness and/or brutality for the sake of being just that, and eventually - much more rewarding: true ambience, soul-searching music, stellar and monolithic, original and exquisitely dark, both celestial and from bottomless pits at once... and if this is not doom, in its true, deep, meaningful essence and direct dictionary term made flesh - I really wouldn't know what doom is.
Highly, highly recommended for the purveyors of originality and depth, for this is an acquired taste that will grow on each individual with some grey matter between his/hers ears. It will stick there and will fucking haunt you, again and again and again, for this music is addictive...
2. What the Moon Brings
3. The Thirteenth Atu
4. From Out of the Abysses Between the Stars
5. To Call the Slow Sailing Stars by Name
Duration : Approx. 44 minutes
Visit the Eyes of Ligeia bandpage.