Púca - Demo (Moonworshipper)

Púca's demo wormed its way into my Bandcamp feed after I began following Moonworshipper Records, run out of Omaha by Billy Liebermann (better known as Lord Bill). The imprint specializes in fringe black metal (BM), dark ambient, and dungeon synth, and has amassed a sizable hoard of kooky arcana since their inception in 2015, but I admittedly wasn't privy to any of it until I reviewed Turpitude's new album last month. While Une interpr​é​tation de la dissolution glaciale en quatre mouvements offered a stylish and competent take on Quebecois atmoblack, it was a rare departure from the label's signature avant-garde leanings. This demo—the first release from Lord Bill's most recent solo project—is a better example of the kind of newfangled BM thaumaturgy for which Moonworshipper is known.

Púca's core sound is a jerry-rigged mishmash of raw BM, hardcore punk, and lo-fi dungeon synth, played with the breakneck urgency of primitive war metal (WM).  The rattletrap production and trashy synths give it a DIY feel that recalls Old Nick or other neo-vaudeville acts on Grime Stone Records (albeit without the high fantasy LARP overtones), but Púca isn't tongue-in-cheek background music for your next tabletop gaming sesh. Lord Bill sidesteps the brittle plasticity that enfeebles the Grime Stone sound by adding thick low-end smut, clogging the demo's mix with scooped guitars and basement-ogre grunts. The result is a muscular, scuzzy, and oddly symphonic twist on barbaric BM that hoists a dirtied flag fashioned from rusted spike studs and peeling black leather. Although its troglodyte death-stomp sometimes sounds like a dumbed-down, lobotomized version of Esoctrilihum, that's sort of the point. This demo won't make you smarter, but it will put hair on your chest.