Artist: Cold Moon Strange Heart
Album: ᎤᎦᎾᏯᎹ ᎠᏎᎽ ᎤᏓᏖᏘ Vol. 1
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Country: United States (Unangax and Cherokee Nations)
We take a look at Cold Moon Strange Heart‘s debut release ᎤᎦᎾᏯᎹ ᎠᏎᎽ ᎤᏓᏖᏘ Vol. 1, set to be independently released on March 5th.
Cold Moon Strange Heart is a solo project by a Unangax & ᏣᎳᎩᎣ ᎠᏰᏢ (Cherokee artist) who goes by the title of A.S (or Assistant Spirit). The album is composed solely of a drum machine and vocals and fits most neatly into the DSBM (depressive suicidal black metal) genre) but has a sound all of its own which features noise, dark ambient and experimental industrial elements. The album was composed and recorded in the month of the Cold Moon, mixed and mastered in the month of the Bone Moon and planned release in the month of the Windy Moon.
The album is conceptually based on indigenous history of cave burial, mummification of tribal leaders and warriors in the north, the Feast of the Dead, natural made poisons across the land and queer/trans or two spirit people (Asegi Utsidhi or “those who have a strange heart”). The artist has also dedicated the album to victims of colonial settler genocide worldwide including indigenous victims of suicide & two spirit peoples who hide to survive.
Before we get into the music, the artist has an interesting piece of information that may help you better understand both the project and their background:
“As an urban indigenous person who’s ancestors descended from the Alaskan Archipelago to the Appalachians, I find more and more similarities between my respective tribes. Both utilizing caves, mountains and naturally poisonous plants in their cultures. Both considered some of the first people in their areas dating back some 12,000 years ago, the end of the last ice age. The more I look into it the more I’m fascinated. I am starting the process of writing grants for several foundations to fund a more sophisticated vision of Cold Moon Strange Heart. Needing to travel to learn hands on the things I feel will benefit me to survive. Documenting that survival of knowledge to be shared. To express what it is to be native and modern. We must learn the traditions to create our own myths and rituals. With that stated two dollars of each purchase goes toward matching funds for research-creation grants A.S. is applying for this year.”
Alright with a now thorough understanding of the context of the music we can dig into the release. The album has a highly unique sound given that it consists solely of a drum machine and vocalist. This is a release that relies solely on atmosphere, that is what drives the release and what draws you in as a listener. I have to say upfront if you are looking for blast beats or tremolo picking in your black metal this is not the album for you. However, if you like minimalistic black metal with raw emotion and atmospheric textures then this probably is for you.
The vocals on the album are raw but faded, distorted and drowned out in mix to give them a sort of ethereal and spiritual quality. They still manage to carry plenty of emotion and conviction despite these effects. The album uses many elements of noise, dark ambient and industrial music in its overall sound. The dark and experimental electronic textures featured craft captivating soundscapes that the vocals merely amplify and accentuate, however I would still listen to them even if the vocals weren’t present. I’m not saying that they aren’t needed, as they really are a crucial factor on the album and I personally love the style, but what I am saying is that the music itself is fantastic and could stand on its own.
As far as the music goes I would have to say that track 3 Damp Fog Lingers…(cave after cave of trophied remains) was the real standout for me. This is a fantastically crafted track and really has a dark and haunting atmosphere to it. Given the track’s lyrical theme this makes sense as it discusses cave burials and mummification. The vocals on this track are also particularly captivating, being used rarely they have a strong impact when they’re actually featured. They really do have a spirit like quality, almost as if the dead themselves are speaking.
For me the concepts on the release really add a whole new level of uniqueness to the music. Knowing what inspires it and drives it gives it a whole new level of depth. I’ve stated this before but one of the things that I love about the black metal genre is that it tends to explore more complex and diverse themes than many of the other genres in the metal world. I’ve been slowly getting more and more into the Native American black metal scene and find it fascinating. This is in part due to the fact that I have an anthropology and history degree and love topics such as this but also due to the fact that it is just objectively fascinating. The idea of music that represents voices that have traditionally been marginalised and allows them to express their stories and push the decolonisation movement in order to try to form a society that is more inclusive of their attitudes, values and beliefs is fascinating to me. People always state that metal is intended to be anti-establishment and to exist as a counterculture, objecting to society’s norms, well what better example can you find than this.
Overall, this is a fantastic first release from the project. The album is truly unique both in concepts and themes and in regard to the music itself. So, go ahead and give the album a spin (well the single that is available to listen to at least) and get your pre-orders in. Remember that a portion of every purchase goes to a great cause.
Listen to and order the album below:
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