Last time I made my way over to Hex to write a review it was for Vile Haint another one of Moonlight Cypress Archetypes projects that was a more black metal influenced release with again, brilliant musician Ryan Clackner. I found myself delving into Existential Dread’s Full Moon Bliss this morning, while still a bit hazy from sleep. It was almost a perfect way to possibly listen as the mind wasn’t fully present in this realm just yet, wandering astral planes and what have you. Existential Dread is a mix of free jazz, doom, drone, psychedelics, and country twangs that carry you into a stupor of indeed a full moon’s pull on the psyche. You are lifted, shifted and unstable as you make your way through corridors lightened by her luminance. The guitars heavy with a doom laden presence slam you back to reality before you get too carried away, but you find yourself again lost in the heady atmosphere soon enough to begin the next phase.
Full Moon Bliss starts with “You And I, Arjuna” which quickly invites a captivating experience of other dimensions and expansiveness of the mind. Arjuna when researched came up as one of the five Pandava brothers who are the heroes of the Indian epic Mahabharata. Arjuna, son of the god Indra, is famous for his archery and for magical weapons he wins from the god Shiva. There is also a medicine made from Arjuna Bark for the heart. All in all, both are ancient in mythology and origin. “Arjuna” continues it’s journey as an meditative state with the dissonant guitar scales and a unique bluesy-country lead. Ryan utilizes these leads in a very interesting way before going back into the heaviness of the riffs. The vocals raspy, distant and at times almost ferociously whispered, growl and enunciate hidden symbolisms through track. The drumming has a jazz influenced approach yet is so precise in execution which works great overall with the experimental take on the sound. It also adds some interesting workings that keeps the listener really immersed in changes throughout.
As you move onto the track “Renunciation” the sound remains steady in its expansive yearning to move the listener to alter their state of mind. Steel pedal guitar is heard throughout that to me personally when used in this way represented the gleaming, shimmering light coming through the darkness of the crushing gloomy hazed guitars. At around 4:31 the track changes into a groove that is really fucking cool, the drums follow with great rhythms and cymbal work. It gets more psychedelic with a great chaotic solo that melds into a lucid head trip to end the track. This moment had me definitely banging my head and stomping my foot to the drums. Really well done in transition.
We move to “Whites Creek Mediation” a lovely instrumental reprieve from the literal existential experiences and exploration from the first two tracks. The guitar is clean, with a great style of calm and reserve. I believe there is indeed a creek flowing in the background of this track which to great effect feels rejuvenating, listening in tandem to the relaxing guitar was a great idea. One does feel like you are taking a breath before heading further on to the pilgrimage that awaits.
“The Sacred Sound” starts with droning fuzz backed by some translucent picked strings and steel guitar slides building into a slow monolith of sound. Again, we are taken into a sphere of hidden doorways encapsulated by the twisting guitar leads that grow into solos that brings the senses back into the forefront. These guitar leads that blaze almost of nowhere seem like a marker for the seeker to take into account where the mind has guided them during listening. It’s easy to lose the self in these tracks, I do believe it was a very clever writing to incorporate the guitars that way, as to almost wake you up as you almost fall into dreaming imagining the worlds within.
We end Full Moon Bliss with “Full Moon Meditation” here is another instrumental track that uses drone and fuzz as opposed to “Whites Creek” with the clean relaxing guitars. The medicine of the full moon is on full display here, one may lay in fascination with what it does to us. This meditation exemplifies energies washing over you, pulling you into her light yet at the same time you can feel her “bliss” of intoxication. Guitars lull you into wonderment of what exact creative energies brought about this inspiration and great musicianship but maybe secrets prevail in leaving you wanting more. Existential Dread has proved we know nothing, with all the seeking in the end there is always something else waiting to be discovered. This album is perhaps a key to open that awareness. Overall, a great and unique take yet again by Clackner and company over at Moonlight.
“This is the debut release from drone metal/doom/free jazz band Existential Dread. Designed to conjure crushingly heavy yet open spaces from a psychedelically dark dimension, Existential Dread goes so far as to use the pedal steel, native to country music, to achieve a twangy sense of expansiveness and distant longing along with free jazz influenced drumming and dreary, chaotic guitar solos.”-Moonlight Cypress Archetypes