Berlin may be the techno capital of Europe and might house some of the most bohemian communities in the western world, but it’s also a thriving incubator for experimental art. It should come as no surprise that this applies to extreme metal as much as the visual sort. As a melting pot of different cultures and styles, Germany’s federal capital is distinct for being un-Teutonic. Indeed, citizens complain about the inefficiency of the city council’s administration of public services, yet everything still works and takes care of itself. This could be an analogy for the way When Theia Created the Moon approach death metal – they can play to the highest ability of the genre’s virtuosos, but they prefer to do it on their own autonomous terms.
The EP promo shot of four German pranksters occupying a superimposed derelict building makes you wonder what they have in store for the listener. They look too whacky to be trusted custodians of death metal’s earnest heritage, yet the intro to ‘Maelstrom Juggernaut’ starts like vintage Obituary with slow-grinding guitars and savage vocal roars. Growler and songwriter, Christian Weißgerber, sounds like he’s delivering a hysterical treatise on the beginnings of the moon’s creation as a consequence of the ancient planet of Theia colliding with the earth some 4.5 billion years ago. It’s a clear analogy for the doomed fate that awaits humanity in the distant future when our descendants continue the environmental devastation we started. We’ve heard this a million times before, you might say, suppressing a yawn, but the humorous wordplay will make you chuckle. “We’re so progressive – we invented progress itself/ Didn’t we evolve just great and come so far?/ We’re not eating raw meat anymore but beefsteak tartar – Fuck yeah!” There’s nothing plastic or overproduced here, yet the technical levels evolve to something like a more complex version of English death metal darlings, Celestial Sanctuary, before they leave us with a crushing Suffocation breakdown at the end.
Is this level of vicious humour and iconoclasm allowed in death metal? It’s a question the Berlin quartet pose on the eclectic standout track, ‘Remnants of Existence’, with its wild saxophone and multi-component structuring. You’ll hear the cold savagery of English legends, Cancer, yet you’ll also discern the liberating hand of Edge of Sanity in the execution of the music. It’s the type of old school death metal (OSDM) that revolutionised the underground in the late 1980s before inhumane speed and monosyllabic grunts became the norm.
When Theia Created the Moon formed during the boredom of the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. That’s understandable given the inertia and restless energy stored up during those times, but maybe they should reassess their purpose and increase their collective ambition. Closing track, ‘Thanatochronos’, brings civilisation to the audio savagery with its sparkling guitar sweeps and thrash metal rhythms powering Weißgerber’s gleeful prophecies. Here, he takes great delight as the joker of the apocalypse with his assurances that “We are an unparalleled accident of nature/ Her greatest achievement and her biggest failure/ We destroy the livelihood of our own kin/ We are but dust in the wind!” The fact you can dance to this bludgeoning metallic onslaught and pity the fate of the future as if attending a street party should disturb you. But that’s the point. Even Greta’s crusade will be nothing more than an obscure footnote in human history. So, let’s party like it’s 2299!
Seldom do we hear experimental death metal these days, but the Berlin quartet behind this music can map its future if they decide to continue. Let’s hope their great city can produce more artists of their kind.
Release Date: 05/02/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Remnants of Existence
Suggested Further Listening: Edge of Sanity – Crimson (1996), Celestial Sanctuary – Soul Diminished (2021), Cancer – The Sins of Mankind (1993)