The Los Angeles based Black Metal/Bass Music project, Luna 13, featuring Dr. Luna (Producer) and Lilith Bathory (Visuals) – burst onto the scene with their debut ‘Phantom Bass Queen’. Since then the band has been winning awards, building a fanbase, and blending their style, which they like to describe as a hybrid mix somewhere between Slayer and Bassnectar. The brand new album, “G.O.A.T Witch” is out via Cleopatra Records on 8/8/18. I never really expected Luna 13 to pull off an album as technical and as complex as this one. While black metal is known for having unconventional song structures with seemingly monotone blast-beat drumming with repetitive, tightly-tuned guitar chord progressions, Luna 13 refrains from these traditional elements on many levels.
Many of the songs, particularly the longer ones, exhibit frequent changes in tempo and rhythm, making the listener wonder what sort of tricks they are going to pull off next. The vocal work is what I like to describe as pure resemblance to demonic menace, be it loud or soft in volume, always adhering to the usual dark atmospheric black metal tone. The guitar, bass, synths and drums, sync perfectly with each other, and can all be heard as a distinctive team of instruments working together to create dark musical magic.
Now here’s the thing. I mentioned guitars and bass previously, because this is how I describe those sounds, but Luna 13 have one distinguishing factor which separates them from the pack – they do not used stringed instruments.
So when I refer to any type of heavy stringed sound, I’m describing Dr Luna’s ability to come up with a metal sounds by combining distortion pedals and sub bass via his synths. It is a clear representation of the more progressive and technical side of the genre, leaning towards electronic and Industrial styled EDM, while still retaining the rawness that all guitar-driven black metal is known for.
There is a lot of variety within each song on “G.O.A.T Witch”, lots of change ups in the music, lots of power, and even groove. I think writing and performing wise, this may be Luna 13’s finest album yet. The single, “Devil’s Wrath” sounds hugely powerful, seductively so.
The guitars are huge, there’s just the right amount of bottom end to the mix, the drums are defined and powerful and the menacing growl of the vocals sit perfectly within the framework of the music. This is monstrous. It is the sound of a band that is now truly firing on all cylinders.
Skin-crawling and venomous vocal rasps that remain as true to pure black metal as ever, can be heard on “Mater Daemonorium”. Extremely expansive, complex and deliciously multi-faceted, Luna 13 suddenly sound many years smarter and more mature on this track with its down-spiraling chord progressions.
Yet, for all of its brutal parts and qualities, the music simultaneously manages to also include a pinch of melody. It expertly weaves in things like tastefully melodic synth flourishes to create parts that are as prominent as they are memorable and infectious.
“Drown” splits its time equally between revving up the engines with propulsive, crunching thrash, and settling back down into more restrained chugging and slow ethereal grooves. Continuing on, even though there should have never been any debate about it, “Burn The Church Down”, with its bone-crushing guitar riffage that are positively scorching and solid bass work, further ensures that the intensity level on this album is firmly glued in the upper red zone. And it eventually it ends up being heavy as a ton of bricks as brutal drumming and monstrous guitar flurries steamroll everything around.
By the time you hit play on “The Satanic Christ”, which is an inexorable flood of biting, nerve-damaging buzzsaw metal riffage and gruesome vocals, you’ll know that, for the whichever sub-genre you want to place this in, “G.O.A.T Witch” should be regarded as essential listening. It stands as easily the finest installment in Luna 13’s ever-growing discography.