With instrumentation that seems like it was plucked out of some revisionist version of the middle ages and songs in both Latin and German, Unto Ashes’ Moon Oppose Moon is overly dramatic and pretentious to the end. Never rising from the gloom, Unto Ashes revels in their self-imposed darkness. It’s tempting to want to scorn and mock a group so dedicated to creating such ostentatiously cheerless music, but Unto Ashes doesn’t let you. Even if you want to giggle at first, Moon Oppose Moon quickly engages you into its enigmatically beautiful world.
Combining traditional instruments with a larger world vision, Unto Ashes gives their music a feeling of belonging to no one particular place or time. This quality makes Moon Oppose Moon unforced and haunting, despite the obvious self-consciousness of these songs. From the delicate “Scourge” to the experimental “Swarm”, Unto Ashes provides a variety of perspectives, even though all the songs still focus on variations of one subject. While the music lacks any sort of light-heartedness, it doesn’t weigh itself down, either, never becoming oppressive, even in its heaviest moments.
Lyrically, Unto Ashes is about what you’d expect, but with some difference. Even though lyrics like “You silken scales make promises of delight / Into the void, my love, your false light beckons” on “Viper Song” would generally cause a listener to cringe, Unto Ashes pulls them off, giving them proper weight without over-emphasizing them. In the heartfelt “This Duration of Emptiness” the anguished vocals of Kit Messick gives the line of “Our love was like a child that died ” a personal sense of lost and longing. The combination of the deeply theatrical lyrics and thoughtful delivery makes Unto Ashes rise above most music of this nature.
Unto Ashes’ Moon Oppose Moon isn’t going to be for everyone, and isn’t meant to be. Their obsession with the darker sides to life will no doubt turn many away from this music, but for those who have a fascination for all the night time things, Unto Ashes provides all one needs with elegance and artistry.
// Notes from the Road
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