Roaring out of Raleigh in deepest Northern Carolina, recently formed American black metal outfit Mo’ynoq have already amassed some serious acclaim with their suffocating sonic soundscapes. Following the success of their stunning EP ‘Bardo’, released in 2017, the band have now ventured into LP territory with the arresting ‘Dreaming in a Dead’ Language. Filled with all the purging emotional resonance, scorching atmospherics and intense psychotic tempos of the finest black metal, lovers of Immortal, Nachtmystium and Wolves in the Throne Room will happily devour this mood-drenched miscellany, and the most discerning of listeners will discover deeper complexities in each of the seven tracks’ serpentine coils. The imaginative, intricate variations in mood, tone and pace that underly the raging infernos on the surface are as beguiling and perplexing as tattooist Pierre Perichaud’s luscious album cover art and stretch the band members’ talent for technical wizardry to its limit.
Diving directly into opening number ‘Empyreal Decay’, Mo’ynoq spin out interludes of withering, creeping slowness interspersed with wild, lurching bursts of tremolo backed by chaotic drum-work that teeters on the edge of madness. As sonic booms of pure angry noise pitilessly strangle the listener, the bristling vocals, with more of a raging, death metal feel than the customary, nerve-shattering demonic shrieks of Mo’ynoq’s proclaimed genre, add to a certain asphyxiating quality which sets the scene for the rest of the album.
‘The Collector’ continues the onslaught with cries of pure feral rage set against ferociously fast-paced drums and demented tremolo, while the spiralling guitars and prickly fretwork of ‘These Once Tranquil Grounds’ soon becomes reminiscent of the ravaged, black metal excesses of epic classic ‘Pure Holocaust’ and Emperor’s mighty ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’. ‘Doomed to Endure’ is a two-minute instrumental featuring the mournful strains of a piano, reinforcing the heady air of tragedy that has been gathering in the shadows of each song, while ‘Witness to the Abyss’ is particularly exuberant in its tortured savagery. These plunging contrasts in momentum are not for the faint of heart, and soon start to feel like tumbling down a very dark and twisty rabbit hole.
‘Carve my Name’ opens in a stately way, with heavy strings set against a fluttering, nerve-jarring backdrop that incites waves of anxiety, before walls of dissonant stormy sound come crashing down like breakers against jagged rocks. As the title suggests, Mo’ynoq seem determined to carve out their own strong identity as the album begins to build to even more of a punishing, unforgettable battering of the senses. Each track gradually grows more overwhelmingly intense, until the tortured finale ‘Buried by Regret’ forms a pummelling landslide of aggressive beats and thorny riffage, leaving the listener to feel like they’ve been smothered alive by a shower of stones, cursed to never see the light of day again.
Towards the end, that sense of tragedy once more kicks in with some tormented melodies, finishing the album with a kind of furious despair. Considering the hostile American political climate at the moment, Mo’ynoq’s strongly felt anger has a deeper resonance and justification. Their peculiar brand of stifling black metal is timely, and as effectively unsettling as Poe’s sinister pendulum, each slow downwards sweep marking humanity’s doomed progress towards the total utter collapse of all that is civilized.
'Dreaming in a Dead Language' is out now