Review/Interview: Moon and Azure Shadow – Age Of Darkness and Frost 9 (Blackgaze)

Written by Alex and Carcassbomb

  • Moon and Azure Shadow
  • Age of Darkness and Frost
  • Blackgaze/Atmospheric/Instrumental
  • USA
  • September 3, 2019
  • 9/10

Spotify / Facebook / Bandcamp / Metallum

I’m so excited to share this album with you guys, it’s an absolute gem. Moon and Azure Shadow is a solo project that mixes atmospheric black metal with Japanese style soundtracks. You have to listen to this with headphones on in a dark room to get the full effect of how grand this album is. As a fan of soundtrack style music and dark ambient, I’m so stoked to see that type of sound being so well mixed with the harshness of black metal.

Cover by M dot Strange
Sean Yoshioka, everything.

That’s where is work shines, it’s showcasing of near-flawless blends of every influence. On the title track, for example, it’s mostly a soundtrack style but then partway through, the shrieked vocals enter the mix and they don’t seem out of place at all. I find that sometimes when trying to mix these styles of music, they often feel forcefully shoved together instead of well melded. This album doesn’t suffer in the slightest from that pitfall.

I can’t speak praise enough for the musicianship and songwriting of this album. The sound is massive and soaring, yet somehow retains this darkness that is woven throughout. The atmospheric parts of this album bring to mind an image of standing atop some high place and staring out over a destroyed landscape, like something out of a fantasy novel. It makes for a completely immersive experience.

When the black metal kicks in, this feeling of darkness is built upon even more. The guitars sound far away and almost hollow. Usually, I like crisp clear production, this album is one of the exceptions. I love the sound that was achieved on this album, it suits everything else that’s going on perfectly. The vocals also have this hollow-sounding quality to them that works really well. Somehow, these grim and cold sounding parts of the album blend seamlessly with the atmospheric parts. One feeds into the other and it makes both sounds much more impactful.

Listening to this evokes so many different images, atmospheres, and emotions but never feels overdone. If you’re the type of person who likes dark soundscapes and black metal, don’t skip over this album. It comes very highly recommended by me!

Interview with Sean, the person behind Moon And Azure Shadow.

Who did the album cover and what is it exactly?

The cover art for “Age of Darkness and Frost” CD was created by animation director M dot Strange.  I found out about him from his youtube channel when I was just lost and depressed.  I was basically a loser doing nothing with my life but I saw him and he was collaborating with interesting people and living the dream making animated films on his own.  He became like my creative hero and I got really fired up just listening to him talk.  His film Heart String Marionette is one of my main inspirations in life.  
M dot is in his own world and not in the world of Black Metal or Dungeon Synth at all.  So I told him maybe something like Berserk or Dark Souls which he is familiar with.  The cover art in his words is like “Dark Souls meets Vaporwave”.  For the forthcoming tape release version, master Igor Mugerza has created a truly epic and beautiful painting!  I still can’t believe I got in contact with him, a dream come true!

What inspired the name Moon and Azure Shadow?

Moon and Azure Shadow is supposed to be a combination of influences from Japanese soundtracks and Atmospheric Black Metal.  I took the name from a soundtrack composed by Koh Ohtani who is most known for his work on Shadow of the Colossus.  Basically I liked the dark and brooding atmosphere of this piece.  When I still lived in Massachusetts I used to smoke cigarettes at Back Bay train station listening to this soundtrack over and over in the winter.  I have since quit smoking though

Being a solo project, what is your setup for making music?

I learned to make this kind of music by listening to the Darkthrone commentary tracks and reading the Summoning forum. So same as Summoning I use things like Native Instruments Kontakt, record guitar DI to Guitar Rig, Akai 88 keyboard to trigger drums and sequence instruments
For sequencer itself I use Digital Performer, it seems not super popular these days but I see some composers like Kenji Kawai and Yasunori Mitsuda still using this.  I’m not in a place to give advice but if anybody is just starting out I would recommend getting studio speakers first, it will save a lot of time and frustration!  I just use some cheap ones Yamaha hs50m’s.  But at the end of the day, just use whatever you have as the vision and atmosphere of your music is most important – not any equipment.  Thanks for the questions and keep music dark and evil!

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