Moloch – Verwüstung (Remastered)

Moloch is an extremely prolific Ukrainian black metal act, whose central figure Sergiy Fjordsson may be known to noise fanatics for his project Saturn Form Essence. Moloch’s releases typically offer primitive and rabid black metal, with dark ambient and somewhat experimental melodic compositions added to the track lists. They are also very limited. In 2014, one of the band’s best-received albums was released: Verwüstung (Moloch’s album and song titles are usually in German, even while the lyrics are in Ukrainian), limited to 400 copies.

Moloch are also known for their raw sound. This is nothing unusual in underground black metal, but Moloch go the extra mile: rather than doing purposefully sloppy recordings, they often record on analogue reel-to-reel tape recorders and generally keep things real. They are not above a little remastering, though, which brings us to this present edition. For the re-release of Verwüstung, the original recording has been polished and injected with new power and life. For fans of the harsher forms of black metal there is little reason to worry, though, this is not by any stretch “overproduced” or even that produced at all. The main difference when comparing with the former edition is that there is a heavier, fuller feeling to the sound as a whole. The screams remain hysterical, the guitars remain distorted as living hell. And so on.

For folks only just now getting into black metal, Moloch may serve as a crash course in what it’s all about. The vocals are broken an angry, at times similar to early Burzum, but more often approaching something like Peste Noir or Woods of Infinity (at their screamiest). Come to think of it, the Burzum references should perhaps rather be applied to the music. Or try telling me that “Nur der Tod ist wirklich” wouldn’t fit right onto Hvis Lyset Tar Oss? Moloch have got their own thing going on too, though, and the shifting tempos make for an exciting listen. There are some great riffing going on as well, and the mood created by the album – at least for someone who has been into black metal for a long time – is hard to beat.

Verwüstung consists of five black metal songs and three dark ambient pieces. On the first edition of the album these came in a different order, but here the track list has been adjusted for the more logical approach of putting all the aggressive stuff first, and the chill down darkness at the end. On the 2014 release the ambient “Todesstille” was placed first on the album, creating a five minute intro, which really isn’t the way to go. The calm synth pieces, put in their place and perspective, are just as great as the black metal, and similar to it in the sense that they also combine simplicity with brilliant mood building. It would not be too much to call it old-school dungeon synth.

Exactly how Moloch managed to produce an album as good as this while churning out releases at break-neck speed the way they do is difficult to understand. There is certainly nothing truly original to be found here, but black metal rarely stands to gain much by being original. This is exactly the way it should be done.

As far as I can tell, the best way to get a hold of this on proper plastic is to order the vinyl from the band’s Bandcamp page. Go do it.

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