Moon Coven – Slumber Wood
Released Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 41:53
Review by Dark Juan
Hey up, chaps and chapesses and people of all other genders. It is I, Dark Juan, and I am back after a brief sojourn into the darkest recesses of my sewer-like mind and you are all going to spend the next ten minutes being bored out of your tiny little minds as I follow the usual well-worn path of tortured metaphors, exuberant frothing, rage, talking about my dogs as if any of you actually cared and some wholly made-up shit about me and mine. Probably. Anyhow, you have actually taken the time to read this and for that I thank you. There’s apparently some of you out there who like reading this absolute drivel I spew out on a semi-regular basis. Weirdos…
So, here we are, ensconced comfortably in Dark Juan Terrace, with the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover doing his usual guard dog duties of shouting at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING PASSER-BY that goes past the house and trying to get me to fight with him (Igor is a French Bulldog of some 11 kilos in weight and is about as useful as a guard dog as a kettle made out of chocolate apart from the shouting and a serious case of small man syndrome, but fucking LOVES a good rumble with me) while the other two smellhounds snooze their afternoon away and Mrs. Dark Juan chortles quietly to herself while she creates some other mentally disturbing doll, or shapeshifting hare, or some other mad shit she finds cute but everyone else is justifiably scared of, and I listen to my sadly neglected review list. Today’s offering is from Swedish psychedelic doom merchants Moon Coven, a four-piece from Stockholm. For some reason I had to REALLY fight the urge to write Croydon, and I have no idea why this was a) funny as fuck to me, and b) why the urge was so powerful.
I am normally suspicious of a band describing themselves as psychedelic doom, as this normally means long drawn-out jams of a single riff for twenty minutes with lashings of fuzz and phaser wah and little in the way of actual music until the last fifteen seconds of the tune where everyone suddenly emerges from their weed-induced haze and clatters everything in sight before declaring it a wrap and proceeding to get even more baked. Thankfully, Moon Coven appear to have avoided that trap and seem to be rather more with it. Opening track ‘Further’ starts us off with a repeating riff that really doesn’t break any new stoner/doomy ground yet is still pretty fucking laid back and cool, but it is the voice of David Leban that is worthy of note. Not for this gentleman is the guttural roar or the relaxed drawl of, say, Master Charger or Thunder Horse, respectively. No, Dave (hereby yet again proving my theory that no matter where in the world a popular beat combo comes from, there has always been a Dave in a band. Even Japanese ones) comes from the school of Ozzy-esque impassioned wailing and emotive clean singing. This is to the band’s benefit because an acid-fuelled gritty growl would not work with the chilled grooves.
‘Eye Of The Night’ is probably the standout track on the record, with oodles of groove and a very cool twin guitar middle eight and the soaring voice of Dave bringing it all together in a satisfyingly complete whole. Fuck me, that sounds rude. I bet when Admiral Of The Fleet General Sir Richard “Run Out Of Things To Say Have You, You Northern Twatmonkey, So You’re Relying On Smut? Get Your Nose Back To The Grindstone Otherwise I Shall Send An Attack Beth And I’ll Only Need One” Tilley reads this there will be tea spurted everywhere from his nostrils and if there isn’t I’m going to be sorely disappointed (There was – Rick!!!). Nevertheless, let us discount my amusement at the thought of our Great Leader fountaining hot beverages from both nostrils and return to what I’m actually SUPPOSED to be doing… ‘A Tower Of Silence’ is a slow drawn-out groove, with slightly less distortion on the guitars and a more bass-led sound that borders on shoegaze with a deceptively simple riff that is slowly built on to form a complex, sinuous song that beguiles rather than bludgeons – this sense of light and dark is what sets Moon Coven apart from most of their contemporaries, who do have a tendency to just stick to the same stoner blueprint. ‘…Silence’ builds in an unhurried fashion and the phased psychedelic solo is a joy to hear, even in the shitty cans I’m wearing and leads into ‘Bahgsu Nag’ which conforms much more to the doom and stoner blueprint, with superfuzz guitar and a languid, relaxed central riff, until we hit the middle eight and then there is a dreamy, creamy, Eastern influenced part which is just gorgeous before the band crash heavily back into the central riff.
The production of the record is actually very good, considering it has a rather bass heavy sound. The cymbals have clarity and cut cleanly through the soupy, heavy guitar and bass combo and this record has an exceedingly rare thing – a snare drum sound I actually like. Snare drums normally sound like Lars Ulrich hitting upturned soup tureens (I’ll never not hate “St. Anger”) or are so far forward in the mix they rattle your fillings. The snare is perfectly placed in the mix and for this I am profoundly grateful. My only complaint is that the bass drum is almost inaudible because of the treacly thickness of the bass guitar. The fuzz appears to have run away with Moon Coven somewhat, but these are minor gripes from a shitty ex-musician who’s only really jealous, actually.
In conclusion – this is a damned fine psychedelic doom metal record, with Sabbathian vibes, mountainous riffs and a fine singer. However, it doesn’t bring anything new to what is becoming an oversaturated genre, and this is why it has dropped marks. The musicianship and songwriting are top fucking drawer though and for a long road trip on a hot summer night you could do a lot fucking worse. The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterade värderingssystemet Dark Juan blodstänk – that last word is crying out for a trad metal band to nick it) awards Moon Coven a very acceptable 8/10. A splendid effort, gentlemen.
‘Further’ (Official Video)
03. Gibekli Tepe (Potbelly Hill)
04. Eye Of The Night
05. A Tower Of Silence
06. Bahgsu Nag
08. My Melting Mind
Fredrik Dahlqvist – Drums
Axel Ganhammar – Guitars
Justin Boyesen – Guitars
David Leban – Vocals, Guitars
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