CRIMSON MOONLIGHT – Blackened Liturgy
March 11, 2016, 2 years ago
Christian black metal band, Crimson Moonlight, gets mixed reactions. “Unblack” metal, as its been dubbed in some metal circles, has created a heated debate from black metal purists and current black metal musicians alike. Crimson Moonlight by their own admission abhor the “unblack” moniker. Instead, the Swedes prefer to be labeled as “Liturgical Black Metal of true Trinitarian Orthodoxy.” Although the band has been in existence for almost 20 years, they haven’t put out a new album since 2004. On its third full-length release, Divine Darkness, the band’s return reaps a fantastic album of brutal, deathy black metal (read the review here). Vocalist Pilgrim Bestiarius XII sets BraveWords writer Kelley Simms straight about the band’s beliefs, message and musical style.
BraveWords: Most black metal purists don’t agree with a Christian band playing black metal. What’s your thoughts on this?
Pilgrim: “We don´t view a specific genre of music as Satanic. Music (or art in general for that matter) is neither good nor evil by its own. It is the message and the purpose behind it that decides such things. Further, we see God as the One and only Creator in an absolute sense. According to the dogmas of the Church, the evil One is not able to create anything of his own. Music is a gift from God and I believe that all styles of music can be used as an instrument to worship the Holy Trinity.
“Black metal, on one side of the coin is a definition of a musical genre. On the other side, black metal is a concept. For many of the Satanists it is really a lifestyle — music with an anti-Christian and satanic message. For us, it is primarily a way to describe the music we play. Our music contains the elements of brutal black metal. Since when did music style and lyrical concept became one? However to avoid this long life debate, we have a unique description for our style: Liturgical Black Metal of true Trinitarian Orthodoxy. That is to define our music with our message. Some people would say black metal can be anything but Christian. I would say; it can be anything but neutral and lukewarm. Black metal is about the inner struggle, the metaphysical reality and the dark night of the soul. Crimson Moonlight is more than just the music. Our live performance has the settings of a liturgical drama.”
BraveWords: What are the band’s specific beliefs and how do you apply it to your music and lyrics?
Pilgrim: “I am an Orthodox Christian. The king dogmas of the ancient Church is rooted in the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. These doctrines constitute the uniqueness of the Christian religion. The concept of Divine Darkness is particularly rooted in the mystical theology of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The main reason for this development is connected with my own spiritual journey into the Orthodox Church. I have also recently finished my Master’s degree in Theology, so that may also have an important impact on the texts. The lyrics on the new album deal with themes as Trinitarism, Christology, hesychasm, deification, creation and apophatic theology. Gurra (drums) is also involved in writing texts and he has a stronger philosophical and existentialistic approach to his writing. Altogether, the lyrics reflect sort of a spectra of the Christian mystical thought.”
BraveWords: Does the band name signify anything?
Pilgrim: “Crimson Moonlight is inspired by the apocalyptical themes in the books of Joel, Acts and Revelation, where it is said that the sun will be darkened and the moon turned into blood before the mighty advent of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
BraveWords: Although you formed almost 20 years ago, Divine Darkness is your first new full-length album in 12 years. Why did it take so long?
Pilgrim: “Well, it has been a while and I guess the band needed to find its way to become what it is today. We worked hard on the new album, a process that started back in 2010. Due to different circumstances, the years after the EP, In Depths Of Dream Unconscious, were a pretty tough period for the band. A few members came and went. We wrote a bunch of songs, but we were not “home” musically at that time. Some songs were more death metal oriented than In Depths of Dream Unconscious, although in a more brutal direction. Things started to turn better in 2010, when we had sort of a new start for Crimson Moonlight. The lineup turned into the current one: Gurra (drums), Per (guitar) and Johan (guitar) and me. This line up is by far the best we’ve had in a long time and I guess that fact led us to start composing the songs in a genre that we all stood behind.”
BraveWords: How did the songwriting come about for Divine Darkness?
Pilgrim: “The composing of the hymns for the new album was quite a long process. But I would say it was a very important process, where we took our time to work through the songs step by step. Of course inspiration comes and goes; work, other bands and various projects tends to extend music and lyric writing. But here we are now and we are proud to unleash the beast of Divine Darkness!”
BraveWords: I hear traces of Marduk, Mayhem and others within your sound, were they influences on the band?
Pilgrim: “Marduk and Mayhem is two of the best black metal bands around. They have both put out a few excellent albums. But for us, it is important to not copy the sound of other bands, simply because others are doing their stuff better than we would and we also want to develop the art of extreme black metal with our own twist to it. So I don´t know if they had a specific influence on our sound, rather that we enjoy their raw style of black metal, which is also found in acts like 1349, Death Spell Omega, Horde, Dark Funeral, Satyricon and Emperor. There are also bands in other genres that we listen to pretty much; Nile, Origin, Defleshed, Rotten Sound, and Wolves in the Throne Room, to name a few.”
BraveWords: There are some haunting atmospherics as well as quiet, melodic moments throughout the album. Were these conscience efforts to add a certain dynamic and variation to the tracks?
Pilgrim: “As we write the songs, we’re always trying to find new dimensions within the art of extreme metal. One of the attributes of Crimson Moonlight is probably the explosive and furious blast attacks, but to create a more powerful and dynamic sound we mix these parts with dark and atmospheric elements. This contains everything from acoustic parts to samplings with Orthodox chanting or heavy chorus arrangements.”
BraveWords: Opening track on the album, “The Dogma Of Chalcedon,” begins with a vicious shriek followed by relentless blastbeats. Was this the clear cut choice for the opening track and how hard is it choosing the sequence order for an album?
Pilgrim: “We all enjoy the explosive opening of ‘The Dogma Of Chalcedon’ and the song is overall a good representation of the musical direction of the full album. There were other suggestions too, but I think this was the best pick.”
BraveWords: What’s next, including touring plans?
Pilgrim: “We are scheduled to play at the Elements of Rock Festival in Switzerland in March and we will hopefully make a European tour later this year.”