Album Title: 
Castle Inside The Eclipse
Release Date: 
Friday, December 15, 2023
Review Type: 

Quite recently, Immortal Frost Productions introduced me to a new project, which is called Bloedmaan. It’s Dutch for blood moon, by the way. I did not know this act, but apparently it is a new outfit by no one else but Ronarg, whom you might know from Antzaat and Ars Veneficium as well. Both these two bands are signed to Immortal Frost Productions, and the owner of this label, S., is part of the Ars Veneficium line-up too. It’s like one big family here…

Ronarg started this act because of some ideas he had, and which he wanted to concretize. He wrote some material and started rehearsing and recording in 2022 and 2023. Ronarg joined forces with Frederik Geuvens, the (new) drummer from Verwilderd, to help him out with the drum section. All other instruments and all vocals, by the way, were done by Ronarg himself.

Another ‘family’-thing (cf. the first paragraph) is the collaboration with Finnish musician and mixer / master Owe Inborr, active in Dispyt and Ondfødt; two sweet bands that are on Immortal Frost Productions’ roster as well, indeed. The goal was to have all this stuff taken care of at the Wolfthrone Studio, run by Owe. Besides, this guy did some studio work for quite some bands related to this Flemish label, amongst which Antzaat and Ars Veneficium. Do you see the connection once more?

The album (since it lasts for nearly twenty-nine minutes, some might call it an EP, but that’s a discussion of no importance) got released on compact-disc (digipack with twelve-page booklet and a mini-poster), as well as on vinyl (normal black vinyl and a colored version). It comes with very nice cover-artwork, created by the spirit behind this project himself, which combines mysticism with apocalypsism (yes, this word exists as from now on). Design and layout have been curated by another label-alumni, WrathDesign. And hey, that is once again another link in between this new release and the label too.

With Castle Inside The Eclipse, Bloedmaan brings an intense yet highly melodious form of universal Black Metal. It is a high-precision-focused technicity that defines the execution of all voices and instruments. Thid high-tech finesse gets translated through a multiple interplay of harmonious guitar riffing, thunderous drums, roaring voices and pushing rhythm strings. When coming back on the latter, I cannot but start with mentioning the superb mix. Actually, the sound quality in its most generalistic sense is beyond standard. With the knowledge that the whole Castle Inside The Eclipse effort stands for an overpowering, unstoppable wall of sound, based on a multi-layered instrumentation, it is remarkable to experience both the finest mixing duties as well as the greatest production. Every single element plays its significant role within this story, whether it is a head-role, then again the presence of a figurant-like play. The sound of the basses, of the rhythm strings, of the drum-section (kudos to Frederik!), and of the backing vocals, they are all as important, and as prominent, as the lead performances. Those leads have to do with an expanded tremolo-riff-based melodicism, which is an undeniable important aspect within Bloedmaan’s identity. Epic harmony-leads, dueling riffing, tremolo-picked play and ingenious solo-work act like the cocoon that surrounds the spine, with the spine being that magisterial rhythm division - it’s almost an endoskeleton covered by an exoskeleton, if you want to.

Ronarg’s throat -though you might recognize the timbre from Antzaat- is of a mostly rough, raspy and boarish kind, yet still with that cogent and vigorous tang included. It represents archaism, alchemy, and vampiric lust; it narrates about subjects, spawn from a vision of an ancient castle, birthed from a crimson full moon within an incarnadine sky. Once in a while, a death-grunt-like growl or even a melodious voice appears, yet the better part sermonizes through that mouth-of-nightly-evil.

Castle Inside The Eclipse has become a monster of a debut. Okay, it does not renew the scene at all; therefor it is too intimately related to the ‘roots’ of the ‘traditional’ scene. But the overall quality of song-writing, performance, sound, and poems (not reinventing hot water either, yet very decently written) is way beyond mediocrity. It’s at the same time harsh and atmospheric, an arduous yet prosperous balance in this recording’s case. As mentioned, the better part is fast, powerful and dynamic, with a vehement and fast-paced energy, and a small amount of decelerated fragments.