Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sektarism - Le Son Des Stigmates

The French are a weird lot and Sektarism isn't exempted from that observation. While it's becoming increasingly common to see two or three song releases with a run time damn near that of your average Slayer or Megadeth release, it still raises my eyebrow a few inches inquisitively, wondering how in the world a band goes about making two twenty minute songs engaging the whole way through. Sektarism are strange in the fact that they are able to make their songs interesting without actually doing anything. Most of the time I feel like the songs are what you hear before a band begins playing their set live; just each member playing their own little things in their own dreamy world. I find myself listening more to what each member is doing than what they are building as a band.

Le Son Des Stigmates starts with a five minute epoch of minimalist tribal drums and, presumably, vocalist Eklezjas'Tik Berzerk howling into the microphone like a hungry man chained in front of the worlds largest and moistest roast beef sandwich. But the release isn't all starving children in Africa clamoring for anything resembling half-eaten apples and spilled moldy rice. No, on second track "Hosanna Sathana," Eklezjas continues the weirdness with low grumbles and zombie mumbles over some slow drums, drawn out feedback and large chords and bass noodling. The whole thing sounds like everything I do drunk when I have a bass guitar in my hands - sucking in the vast stretches of noise and chord fluctuations while imagining some half-assed drums in the background for bare-bones structure.

The emphasis becomes a mixture of the monotonous drumming interspersed with almost random fills rudely played by Shaamanik B and quite audible bass fumbling emphatically made present by Crüxvheryn K. While the names of the members becomes almost a parody of itself, the band itself all seem totally on board with the messy and flamboyant circus they've decided to pursue on their first full length. I'm fond of funeral doom. I like the crushing weight a band can lay on top of my shoulders with a massive hammer of bass and guitars. The confidence imposed upon the listener through strongly emphasized notes and melodies yet calculated subtlety of at times hazy and misty productions lends the genre a cross appeal. At times totally doomy and other times totally experimental and harsh. The environs which bands like Evoken, Catacombs, Moss or Lordamor inspire are testaments to creative genre stretching and the cracking of mental stability.

While Sektarism do invoke momentary head nodding and brain bobbing, doomed melody and cemetery wistfulness, most of the time spent is a meandering four-dudes-in-a-rehearsal-room with-no-real-direction, all doing whatever they want, compositional ambivalence. So when guitarist Messiatanik Armrek near the sixteen minute mark of "Hosanna Sathana" breaks into a neat guitar riff and no one really gives a crap about putting something resembling effort behind it, I almost don't want to listen to the nineteen minute long "Le Testament." It turns out that "Le Testament" is a far more structured track. The band members actually sound like they are recording in the same room to the same song but I still don't feel like the song heads anywhere.

Sektarism, for me, are mostly interesting as an example of why funeral doom turns people off. Somewhere out there people's first experience of funeral doom is a band like this. Who would want to listen to a band that doesn't sound like they care about their own music? More interesting for me is that bassist Crüxvheryn K played in one of my favorite French black metal bands, Fornication, under the name Kobal. Going full circle, this is a weird project and maybe people out there would be into what appears to me as indifference but I don't see a reason to spend time on it.

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