Oh boy, where to begin... For anyone who understands the genre, it's obvious that black metal wasn't a genre built off of an idea of "perfection" in any sense of the term. A genre that was essentially formed around Norwegian teenagers creating demo tapes in their basement and selling them to eager tape-traders seldom worried about creating high-quality productions and spot-on performances, yet many essential masterpieces were created from this minimalist, "seemingly" imperfect attitude. Of course, aside from some highlight titles, the early 90's black metal scene featured heaping piles of atrocious demo-tapes. Although Crimson Moon would go on to do much better things, their self-titled debut demo can easily fit into that "atrocious" pile of releases that I've referenced earlier. If Crimson Moon has any redeemable qualities whatsoever, they are deeply buried underneath a horrendous production, boring compositions, and sloppy musicianship. It's clear that Scorpios had some good ideas in this demo, and I'm glad that they were fulfilled later in his career. But as far as this 1994 demo is concerned, I can't recommend this to anybody, except for maybe a die-hard Crimson Moon fan. Aside from the novelty factor of owning such a rare demo, I could even see them being disappointed as well.
The music here is raw, old school black metal in its purest form. Think something like Darkthrone or early Burzum. Crimson Moon is a rather short demo, clocking in at 9 minutes exactly. This length has a positive and negative effect - the bad part is that the demo is so damn short, but the good part is that I don't think I could handle anything much longer. The production is the real crippling factor here - the sound is so weak that it's hard to actually comprehend any of the instruments. It's just a big, unidentifiable wall of sound. If you're listening to the demo through headphones, the sound will randomly drift from one side to another. Production aside, Crimson Moon is mediocre at best. It's typical black metal with little variation and unremarkable compositions. The programmed drums are horrendous, and considering that's the only instrument that's adequately audible, that creates yet another problem. If you want to here some good Crimson Moon, check out one of their full-length albums. This demo has the "proceed with caution" sticker all over it.
I enjoy Crimson Moon's later efforts, but this debut demo is actually a somewhat painful listen for me. Die-hard fans of Scorpios' work may want to have this one, but I could even see them being let down when comparing it to the much-improved albums that he's created further down the road. Despite some of the good intentions here, the most I can give this debut demo is a small 1 star rating. I was considering going lower, but in all fairness there are some decent moments and, despite all its flaws, it does convey a somewhat hypnotic dark atmosphere. Still, this is a prime example of how much a band can improve in just a few years.
1. Into the Nocturnal Forest (1:29)
2. Veins of Immortality (2:39)
3. Transcend the Darkness (3:22)
4. Perpetual Bleeding (Outro) (1:31)