Moros is an apt word to describe our modern times, meaning “impending doom.” Considering our current political climate, nature on the brink of devastation, and the vast array of problems that impact us both individually and collectively on a daily basis, the last remnants of the Roman Empire are slowly crumbling, and Eye of Nix is here to provide the soundtrack. Combining a massive array of styles into one, their music is brought to another level by Joy Von Spain’s haunting operatic and banshee-like wails, which combine perfectly with the harsh sludge-style vocals interspersed throughout the album. Spain, alongside Masaaki Masao (formerly known as Murder), is best known around Seattle for her noise projects such as 100 Pieces, and has collaborated with a number of people within that scene. To see Spain embrace the world of experimental metal is something I never saw coming, and it adds an entirely different level of uniqueness to this band.
Combining so many genres into one effort ensures that the eclectic listener’s experience will be gratified. At the opening of “Turned to Ash,” I cannot help but think of Christian Death or Siouxsie and the Banshees, but the riffs in “Veil” are pure Swans. The brief moments of tremolo picking are as close as they get to a genuine black metal atmosphere, but this is enough to balance the raspy screamed backing vocals. In some ways, the influences can be too obvious, but these are matured musicians who also know what they are doing. My biggest complaint is that the noise element is the least prominent within this music, which is clearly disappointing given where I had previously known two members of Eye of Nix from. Electronic elements do exist here, but they aren’t enough to satisfy me. The guitarists do a good job of using tremolo picking to contrast against Spain’s operatic swoon, and, of course, the rhythm section holds it down masterfully for the rest of the band, but it seems clear that Moros is largely focused around giving space musically to Spain’s intense screams and haunting soprano vocals.
This is not to say that without her vocals the music would become irrelevant. It’s simply that its strength lies in supporting her, and when you have a vocalist like this leading your band, that should be expected. The chant in the beginning of “Optime Vero” is in Latin, sounding like a curse for the fall of Rome. The whole performance is absolutely phenomenal, and if this does not put Spain in the same pedestal of recognition as Jarboe and Diamanda Galas, the music world as a whole will be sorely missing one of this generation’s greatest talents. Perhaps this is why the noise elements exist more to create atmosphere and ambience. In short, Eye of Nix just might be the leader of the pack in the experimental metal scene of the Pacific Northwest, and it’s about time we have a band to lead heavy music to new heights.
It’s this combination of styles that is Moros‘s greatest strength, and curiously enough, “We Perish” ends with sounds of chaos in broken glass, sirens, and screaming—a fitting theme for an album built upon a moving, evolving, and unstable foundation. With artwork done by Ogo Eion, who is known for putting on various performances—in particular Psychopomp in Portland—and creating patches that thousands of us mutants around here wear, as well as for making a video featuring the extraordinary Butoh dancer Vanessa Skantze, Eye of Nix’s Moros is truly part of a collaborative whole, a reflection of various styles and genres that have shaped the music of the Pacific Northwest over the past decade. Balancing melody and intensity, operatic vocals and truly terrifying screams, and ambiance with ferocious riffs, Moros is something you are going to have to hear to believe.
01) Elysium Elusive
02) We Perish
04) Turned to Ash
06) Optime Vero