Moonrise in Total Darkness reviews

Perplexed_Sjel on February 4th, 2010

An Altered Point Of View.

It has taken a long time, precisely eight years, but Sébastien Robitaille has returned to offer us his sophomore record, entitled ‘Moonrise In Total Darkness’, a supreme melodic black metal work which puts to shame his debut. I am somewhat partial to the debut but, as you might have been able to tell from my review of it, I do not like the production that encases the material. It was like wearing a pair of pants that don’t fit properly, the production just couldn’t contain the magic that was bubbling up beneath the surface. Our vision was obscured by the dampening production which put out the flame of the infectious melodies with a bucket of ice cold water. Now, eight years on and with a record label behind him, Sébastien Robitaille has been able to put his worthwhile style into better hands, one’s which could showcase his talents well and with a more bombastic productive showcase.

In the simplest terms, this record is what ‘Snowland’ wanted to be and more and that is possible simply due to putting a new spin on an old tale by perfecting the production. There were no real problems with the instrumentation on ‘Snowland’, though the whispered vocals served little purpose in the grand scheme of things, so I had no worries regarding the potential of Sorcier Des Glaces’ future. This record is exactly what I wanted to hear. The bass is back and at the forefront of our imaginations again, solidifying the good work that the guitars lay down over it and the melodic approach has been heightened simply due to the new and improved, efficient production values which gives the atmospherics a brand spanking new sound and quality. As I said, there is now a bombastic, shimmering element to the songs which makes them sound more forceful and with it, far more powerful than ever before.

In fact, in the case of ‘Moonrise In Total Darkness’, the production is now having trouble containing the brilliance of certain elements, such as the soaring keyboards on songs like ‘Glociale Solitude’, which may be brief instrumental tracks, but these expose the weaknesses of the previous record. The new production, courtesy of having a new record label (Mankind) to fall back on, has seemingly given the band the confidence to perform without needing to take the hindrance it posed in question on previous occasions. I do find some of Sébastien’s drumming to be somewhat laboured. He is a much better guitarist than he is a drummer, though he is still competent enough to hold the atmosphere together almost entirely through the use of integral bass, clean and harsh guitars and those luscious keyboards.

His vocals have altered somewhat, reminding me specifically of Michael Bayusik of New Conquers Day and Tearstained, amongst others. Unlike Bayusik, Sébastien doesn’t use overwhelming, piercing screams like that of a rock n’ roll star on the 1980’s. He sticks primarily to his deep vocals and doesn’t resort to rasps, or anything as traditional as that. It’s difficult to describe exactly what they are, but I find comparing them to Bayusik’s vocals makes me more comfortable and familiar with the concept of his voice and how he chooses to use it. His vocals don’t draw any major positives, as this is down to the other three elements I mentioned earlier. These elements bring out the best in the atmospherics and on songs like ‘Behold The Halls Of Ice’ truly do showcase what Sorcier Des Glaces are all about by switching effortlessly between shimmering, soaring soundscapes, to distorted, icy cold atmospherics which remind me of wintry Canadian landscapes.

There is a definite beauty to the keyboards and how it works with the bass and guitars. The drumming is a lacklustre element, but it has it’s moments to shine, as on songs like ‘La Pleine Lune Éclaire Les Ombres Du Royaume Des Glaces’, which develop into extremely experimental affairs as the bass strikes a really good riff alongside a punishing, cold guitar riff and then the percussion can switch between Immortal styled blasts and catchy patterns. The song writing has improved, though there are a lot of similarities between this record and the debut, ‘Snowland’. The song writing makes an effort to include all elements and give them a chance in front of the audience to have their say like they’re making life altering speeches about some political event, or other. I really do feel that a simple change in production has made Sorcier Des Glaces more accessible and punchier, even, giving them a resonance and bombastic quality that serves the cleaner elements especially well - though it also does a good job at supporting the misanthropic natural vibe that the distorted aspects provide. Essential melodic black metal.

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vempyre on November 27th, 2007

His best up to date, Underground and passionate!

First of all I must say that I've followed SDG for a long time being a friend of Sébastien, and I must say this is a project intended to be totaly underground, you'll notice the abscence of names in the cd credits. SDG is a side-project of the same guy who does Passage ( Can ) and Moonlyght. As a great fan of his works I'll start off buy saying that this album has a much better sound quality than the first, being that the budget was higher and he did not use a 4-track this time. SDG is what I call a tribute to all early norwegian black metal, being his influence during the recording of this album. I personally think this is a great offering considering the great bands he was influenced by. The structures of the songs sound more finished than on his first album. You can also feel a great cold shiver going through your body as you listen in on all the tracks. The quality of the recording makes it sound like old school BM and personally I am very appreciative of the genre. I cannot say that this is a masterpiece production wise but to me it's a masterpiece in it's genre and I hope SDG continue on this path because he is doing great at immortalizing a style of BM that we barely hear nowadays. If I took away 5 points it's not really cause it's not a good cd, it's just that I don't believe in perfection, I think this album sounds good, It has a good guitar, some strong vocals that maybe are just a little bit to much in front and have a bit too much echo. The rest is fine. The drum is pretty basic, not much blast beats but if you enjoy steady drumming, you're served here. The lyrical theme is pretty much based on cold mysanthropic evil from the northern canadian landscape. Being from the same place as SDG I think this really represents the sound of Québec. I highly recommend this album to anyone who still feels theres room for old 1990-1996 Black Metal in your discography. I suggest you all to start with this album and If you like it, get the first so you can see the evolution of a great to become artist. This album makes me wanting more. Hopefully SDG will let aside other projects for a couple months and work on a third installement from SDG.

Let's talk about the musical aspect of the album now. I'm not a musician so I might not have the best critical ear but here goes nothing. The guitars are very well tuned and procure the listener a cold feeling when listening the it. There are a couple keyboards who blend in very well with the hole of the instruments, the only thing as I said earlier is that the vocals sound a bit echo and are sometimes in front to much. In some tracks you really get the feeling of mysanthropy and sadness blended all together with a twist of evil, and I think that is what SDG wanted the listener to feel. The bass is not as present as I would've wanted it to be but don't forget this is SDG's second album and first made with a better studio. With that said, you can feel the feeling wanted by SDG and this is a true hommage to the early 90's Black Metal. In all, this is a great release that is worth the try, it's an album that last almost 40 minutes so there are no unnescessary long parts on the cd. For those who will have a first listen to this album might say, "ah damn, theres the typical intro, it sucks!" your wrong, keep in mind this is an old school black album and intro's were very muched ysed at the time and this artist works the old fashioned way, and to me this is just amazing that there are still artists out there dedicated to the old BM art. When you scroll through this album you get transported from one smooth cold track to the next which is totaly in another paste. Fast drumming, good guitar work, subtile bass lines and a harsh vocal all blending to create a style that is purely SDG's. So with that said, I didnt waste any cents on this which I bought for only 12 dollars canadian. This is very well spent! Good job for a multitalented artist which has 3 bands.

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Moonrise in Total Darkness track list

1Misanthropy Within the Endless Mountains03:08
2Distant Fog Floats in the Grim Nightforest04:44
3Dense Nordic Veils Fall upon My Realm with Grandiose Obscurity04:52
4Moonrise in Total Darkness06:06
5Glaciale Solitude03:23
6Behold the Halls of Ice05:41
7Là où la pleine lune éclairé les ombres du royaume des glaces06:26
8Nature's Fury03:24

Moonrise in Total Darkness lineup

Sébastien "Roby" RobitailleBass, Guitars, Vocals
Luc GaulinDrums