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[Album Review] Ninth Moon Black ‘Chronophage’

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Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Ninth Moon Black is an instrumental metal band with traces of psychedelic and ambient qualities. Their first full-length release, which came out in 2007, was self-titled and an EP followed in 2010. Now, the five piece band is back with another full length entitled Chronophage (translated: Time Eater). Only six tracks but clocking in at almost 45 minutes, does this epic take the listener on a journey or leave them by the wayside. Find out below.

The album opens with “Renascentia”, which bears strong overtones of Angelo Badalamenti’s smooth, sexy, yet oddly eerie score for Twin Peaks. While I was drawn into the mystery of the music, the six-and-a-half minute length quickly began to be felt. There was nothing wrong with the music. Rather, it simply went on for too long. Unfortunately, this ended up being the case with the entire album.

The album plays out like one unbroken track, similar to that of TesseracT’s Concealing Fate EP or Dream Theater’s Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence (disc two). Now, I have no problem with this. As a matter of fact, I love when albums go for this style. The opportunity to truly explore and flesh out different musical passages and ideas gets my blood boiling.

But with Chronophage, Ninth Moon Black seem to just play the same riff, or some variation of it, over and over with minor changes for several minutes before introducing a new riff. At that point, they simply play small variations of it and so the pattern repeats itself. The ideas are there and they bear such promise but they never reach a fullness or a point where I thought, “Yes! This is it!” Rather, I was constantly waiting for the music to reach the next level. That promise was never fulfilled.

This isn’t to say that the music is bad. In fact, I truly enjoyed many moments of the album. But nothing stood out as particularly memorable or engaging.

From a production standpoint, Chronophage has the perfect sound and attitude. The guitars always have a bit of a snarl that is delightful to hear while the bass shifts from background to foreground with graceful ease. The drums have just a touch of “garage” tone to them, which gives a wonderful raw feeling to the album.

The Final Word: Aiming high but never reaching full potential, Ninth Moon Black’s Chronophage is a frustrating listen. I wanted to be swept away in waves of instrumental bliss. Instead, limp splashes of water barely shifted my feet. The band shows a great deal of promise and I hope that their next release blows me away.

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