Crimson Moon’s main man Scorpios Androctonus comes with impressive pedigree from associations with bands such as Melechesh, Demoncy and Ancient, where he’s recently picked up bass guitar duties, and, the most appropriate and illustrative link, to Acherontas. Not only did Androctonus provide Acherontas guitars and keyboard assistance on the last two full-length releases Amenti and Ma-IoN he’s also thrown in some vocals and lyrics. Add into that pot the similarity to the likes of Emperor on previous releases (his first two from as far back as 1997 and 2005) and this time round the chaotic density of Nightbringer and it shouldn’t be too hard to picture what we might be in store for here. Whereas those first two albums were much more darkly captivating bedroom bontempi black metal, this, the first full-length in 11 years, is an ambitious occult-driven, career-defining moment for the band.

Oneironaut begins with a steady, mid-paced ritual with Gossamer of Arachne. It’s a track that sets the occult vision of the album if not the high bar that later tracks manage to raise in celebration of whatever dark gods Scorpios et al intend to invoke with this sprawling hour-long opus. The second half of the track is the first glimpse we see that Crimson Moon aren’t intending to provide us with an album of filler. Hypnotic, ever repeating circular guitar leads make a track that starts off feeling like it might be a nine minutes of blizzard guitars, vocal chants and scorching black metal vocals (all good things when done right. I might add) into a track where time evaporates into the ether and the whole album becomes an effortless experience. And so the journey begins. Over the following five tracks Scorpios unleashes everything he’s learnt over more than two decades into a celebration of occult black metal complete with swirling chaos and captivating ordinance. For all its similarities, Oneironaut is delivered at a much faster pace than Acherontas – more the icy blast of black metal’s second wave than something of the deep occult. It’s also far more ready to deliver up those tantalising hooks that come so thick and fast. Non-believers might find it hard to get past some of the vocal chanting, but, if you can, the disembodied effect actually sweetens the effect of Crimson Moon’s heady mix even further.

The second half of the album takes Oneironaut into more complex territory with mid-paced (relatively speaking) monsters like Weaver of the Web bringing more insidious quasi-melodies into the celebratory din and providing Crimson Moon’s confident blast with new depths. The final track delivers 20 minutes of crushing black metal and ritual ambience in one final attempt to rip open the thin fabric of reality and spew your soul forth into the psychotic snapping jaws of whatever waits on the other side. Oneironaut is delivered in whirlwind style – almost as if the final moments of the ritual are already in full effect and those doors to worlds full of alien chaos have already flown off their hinges. This album is a formidable achievement and an hour teeming with emotion, exploration and purest black metal. Are there times when Oneironaut could feel just a little too relentless? Perhaps, but even then the overall effect can take the wind out of your lungs, exuding both searing precision control so familiar to top flight occult metal bands with an explosion of intensity. This is one of those albums that releases something genuinely magical and at times makes you forget you’re listening to music and have instead allowed some grinning, maniacal genius to take over the controls of your brain. Excellent stuff.

(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)