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Nansarunai - Ruins of the Moonlight Temple

Indonesia's raw black metal scene has grown quite rapidly in the past two years, with Nansarunai becoming one of its most prominent bands. I reviewed their first full-length, Ultimul Rege, a while back. It was harsh and abrasive, but also melodic and atmospheric. Since then, they have released split albums with bands such as Forbidden Tomb, Arazubak, and Wampyric Rites. Their latest work is Ruins of the Moonlight Temple, a full-length that was released on November 5, 2022. I like the cover art. Black and white photographs of thunderstorms always make for striking images, but the ancient temple in the foreground gives it a quality that is uniquely Indonesian.

The production is less abrasive than it was on their first album, but it still retains a strong sense of atmosphere. The music's formula is mostly the same, but now it's a lot more refined and intricate. The blast beats are more focused and impactful, and they are often broken up by upbeat, almost punkish rhythms that remind me of Vlad Tepes. They also make sure to break things up with slower beats and a few elaborate fills.

The vocals still consist of soul-piercing howls and screams that sound like they're being made by vengeful ghosts from the distant past. The guitars show the greatest amount of development. The tremolo riffs still have a spine-chilling tone, but their designs have become more intricate. They sound like a more evolved Belketre. Accompanying the upbeat drumming are equally upbeat chord progressions. Coursing through all these riffs is a sense of melody that is even stronger than it was on the previous album.

The theme of this album is a yearning for the glorious ancient past. Song titles such as "Powerful and Damned Unseen Forces" and "The Ghosts and the Abodes of Deities" show that the old spirits still dwell in the land despite modern man's arrogant assertion that the metaphysical does not exist. "Decline and Fall of the Power" is a reference to Majapahit, the first realm to unite the Indonesian archipelago. It expresses the unfortunate truth that all great powers eventually decay and collapse. "The Grand Thalassocracy" expresses an admiration for that old splendor and a desire to revive it.

Nansarunai have really outdone themselves with this release. It's more melodic, more atmospheric, and much more developed. They took the old LLN formula and transformed it into a unique entity. Amazing things are happening in the Indonesian black metal scene, and this is proof.