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Review: Moonlight Sorcery - Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle
Moonlight Sorcery
Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle

Label: Avantgarde Music
Year released: 2023
Duration: 44:12
Tracks: 9
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: February 9, 2024
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4/5 (80%) (2 Votes)

In my limited experience with symphonic black metal, I've run across a couple of variations. The most common is a combination of black metal vocals and tremolo guitars with mountains of keyboards and synths creating a lush atmosphere, and the other, less frequently employed style is when more traditional metal elements are brought into the mix. This latter approach is the one taken by Finland's Moonlight Sorcery on their debut album, Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle. They waste no time hitting you square in the face with rasping shouts and a bombastic sound on the opening cut, "To Withhold the Day", but what becomes clear just a scant few moments into the song is that the drums are warm and full and the guitars have an almost neoclassical power metal riff style with some very impressive lead work. There are keys, but they are in a supporting role, so despite the accessibility of Moonlight Sorcery's playing, it remains sharp and heavy. I find the songwriting slightly repetitive with the songs sounding similar to one another, but since they are all pretty damn good, it barely interferes with my enjoyment of the album as a whole. And when the opening riff from "The Secrect of Streaming Blood" or the solo on "The Moonlit Dance of the Twisted Jester's Blood-soaked Rituals" start, I'm too busy with the air guitar to care. If symphonic black metal from Emperor, Dissection, and Wintersun is in your collection, you'll want to make some space for Moonlight Sorcery.

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