I tend to be very wary of drone and so-called dark ambient music, partly because a lot if it is produced by people with no musical aptitude whatsoever and also because a significant quantity of it rose like a deformed, malignant phoenix from the ashes of second wave Norwegian black metal. I mean, would you feel comfortable listening to an excruciatingly tedious album of utterly uninspired synth dribblings by Burzum, the current nom de plume of Varg Vikernes, self-professed neo-Nazi and murdering, church-burning, braindead piece of shit to boot? It was with some trepidation, therefore that I approached System Morgue and Birtawil's collaborative full-length "Moea", particularly as the sleeve notes suggested it might be an exploration of some hitherto undreamed of common ground shared by classical music and black metal. I needn't have worried. Whilst not quite a transmission from the outermost limit of all, this is still a captivating album that subtly brings the two genres into contact without creating some hideous Frankenstein's monster type hybrid which would have sounded as horrific in reality as it does in your imagination. "Moea" is relentlessly dark like the sky behind the scudding clouds just prior to a massive thunderstorm. I'm clutching at straws for comparisons but Saint-Saens's "Danse Macabre" remixed by Altar of Plagues is about the best I can come up with. Its 3 tracks amount to just over 40 minutes but bleak as it is, it's a compelling listen, mounting tension upon tension that leaves your knuckles white by the end of the final movement. What could easily have ended up as a Mozart meets Mayhem mess is actually an elegant and eerie triumph.
Favorite track: System Morgue & Birtawil - Moea III.