Kuunvalon Kruunaama ("Crowned by Moonlight") is a one-man black metal band from Finland. The project got its birth in 2010, and has made a few demo-records since - this being the latest one as of 10/2011.

The demo opens up with a sad and melancholic three-minute piece played with piano only. It's a good instrumental, but gives an even too great contrast to its follower. "Desecration of Light" is a really traditional oldschool black metal song; fast, simplistic tremolo-riffs, simple but capable drums, and a bass guitar that slavishly follows the guitar lines in the far distance. Very traditional, and the raw and rather thin and lo-fi sound amplifies the effect. The song has a slower chorus that works rather well, though.

The second song is slower and more atmospheric, and comes with tastefully imbued pianos and synths. It works well otherwise, but its power is toned down due to its hissing and powerless soundscape. Nonetheless, it's a pretty simple song, but shows a great sense of style, as the guitar soloing in its end proves. Track four is a calm three-minute piece with piano and synths, and serves as a great mood-setter for the demo's highlight song "Journey to Darkness." This seven-minuter opens up with calm piano-work, but soon turns into a slow-paced black metal song. It flows forward with all the time in the world, and is clearly the most refined and solid piece on the demo. It creates a nice, cold and foresty atmosphere, and the piano melody in its end helps it to penetrate the listener's skull. Skillful drums, appealing and honest guitars, tasteful piano... If only the bass guitar and fumbly vocals were interesting. The demo ends to five minutes of melancholic piano work, with a hint of hope. "Kaipaus" is a bit too long, but otherwise pleasing.

As you probably noticed, half of the demo's length comprises of piano-based music, and the other half is black metal. Both of these expressions are essential in the band's style, but as-is the demo feels pretty long and scattered, as if the artist hadn't known what he's going for. The anti-religious song "Desecration of Light" doesn't really fit in either, as the rest of the demo is a lot more atmospheric, both lyrically and musically. One more major flaw is that the songs have different soundscapes and volume levels, most notably the song "Winter of Eternity" sounds thinner and plain different than the rest. The demo is hard to grasp due to it having been put together so clumsily, without enough effort put into thinking about the holistic end result.

The demo shows a lot of eagerness, skill and effort, but it's clear that the artist's vision for his band hasn't yet crystallized. It'll be interesting to see how Kuunvalon Kruunaama will sound like on its next release. I hope that the atmospheric and black metal-sides have merged more seamlessly together by then, such as on the song "Journey to Darkness." The croaking vocal work needs bigger balls, and the lyrics need to be worked on as the ones on "Winter..." and "Journey..." are plain amateurish and borderline meaningless. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Kuunvalon Kruunaama.

3 / 5