A Smooth Concrete Wall
Occult Architecture Volume 1 implies oddities by its very naming convention. There’s a promise of a strange world within these grooves. The cover even features a peculiar floating obelisk, conjuring thoughts of some Lovecraftian soundtrack behind the art booklet. In spite of all these seemingly understandable preconceptions, Moon Duo achieve the unexpected by delivering a decent, but predictable rock record.
From the first notes, it is apparent that this album is not going down the path of the strange. “The Death Set” is made of droning distorted guitars and lazily sung smooth vocals. It drags the listener into a trance of sorts, as it rarely breaks form, save for a few brief guitar flourishes. Sadly this will remain the case for nearly the entirety of the record. The title and art call to mind such grand and mysterious intentions but ultimately fall flat in the face of of their own self-imposed expectations. At moments, though, it travels to the edges of where one may have hoped. At the ending of “The Death Set,” the singer repeats, “there is a sound in my room,” through a heavy distortion filter, which does serve to create an air of suspense and mystery.
Outside of its unfortunate inability to live up to the surrounding mythology, perhaps Occult Architecture‘s next greatest failure is its length. Despite being only seven songs long, each stretches far beyond the five-minute mark, something that wouldn’t be an issue were it not for the overly repetitive nature of the songs. Tracks like “Cold Fear” and “Creepin” serve as welcome reprieves from the lengthier back half of the album. The whole experience seems as though it was built to add up to something hulking and monumental, but ends up being more like a giant brick wall than a colossus.
Occult Architecture Volume 1 is not an offensively bad album, it is decently constructed and contains no points of major contention; however, the call to play it safe on this record causes it to fall flat entirely. Long stretches of the album fade into each other without warning or consequence, causing it to be almost entirely lost in the background even on close listens. It should have been stranger, it should’ve turned heads, but instead it silently shuffles by.