I’d never heard of Moss Upon The Skull prior to being sent this. Cool name, cool artwork. I was salivating at the thought of some Autopsy-like, grimey death metal as I hit “play”. Would these Belgians get my head banging or was it to be a load of old (blue) waffle?

Well….. it’s a little from “column A” and a lot from “column B”.

See, I usually listen to music in the bath (my office is opposite one of the many bathrooms here at Eve-Mansions) and it’s a good job I was covered in Matey or I’d have hit “stop” after the first couple of tracks.

I should have read the promo blurb accompanying the release…

“Moss Upon The Skull emerged in 2010 from the same swamps on which Brussels was founded, with the intent of playing unconventional, progressive death metal with a strong focus on philosophy, spiritualism, decay, and the mysteries of nature and the after-life.”

…..ok….sounds wanky but whatever…..

“…heavily influenced by esoteric, alchemical principles and alternative history, as put forward by luminaries like Michael Tsarion, Terrence McKenna, Aleister Crowley, or John Dee. “The album title refers to dealing with frustration, hardship or threat, not in an emotional way but with serene rationality, in order to overcome the adversity and remove the cause of the challenge.”

My “ponce alarm” just went off.

Thing is, these lads can play….and play well but this is some super technical death metal….verging on wafty nonsense at times.

That might be due to the …

“…blue flame concept informing the album represents the release of anger and frustration in a constructive and creative way. It makes sense to channel these energies into manipulating the world around us to serve our purpose, call it magick or willpower.”

Don’t spell “magic” with a “k” mate…. You come across like some chubby single mum done up like a council house Elvira trying to give me a tarot reading!

Music-wise, the band remind me of Gorguts, later Pestilence and Obscura. Like I said the boys can play but, and maybe it’s youthful exuberance, they sound like they are trying too hard. There are enough ideas and odd tempo changes on this to last half a dozen albums. The music is so intricate in places that at times it’s utterly soulless and a proper chore to listen to. I like a bit of groove in my death metal and there’s precious little on this release. That’s not to say the album is devoid of positives, the band do manage to conjure a creepy atmosphere on some tracks, the title track and “The Serpent” are great examples – both tracks have a bit of a black metal vibe to them in fact but I can’t honestly say I’d shell out on this or recommend you to do so without copping an earful first.

5/10 Mark Eve