Friday, September 8, 2017
Mesmur - S
Mesmur’s S is hands down one the best funeral doom albums I’ve heard, and by that I don’t mean it’s merely some kind of subgenre revival. S stands on equal footing with the greats of funeral doom, and like any particularly high quality album, it should capture the interest of fans of other metal genres. Funeral doom as a niche genre is possibly one of the shakiest premises to have spawned from the recesses of heavy metal. What if the very pacing of the songs and their structures were, in of themselves, a source of heaviness? Well, more often than not you end up with something that feels more slow and boring than crushing. It’s a wildly challenging balance to strike, but on S Mesmur calibrates the overall atmosphere just perfectly with a detailed landscape of tones.
It’s almost ridiculous to mention given the nature of the album, but even in a genre where everything is supposed to be heavy and a subgenre that is supposed to be crushing, this album is notably oppressive. The heaviness though is more than just thick guitars and bass backed up by what I am sure is an impressive array of gear. What really makes S stand out is how clear everything is, or in other words the impeccable mixing helps to highlight every last bit of the album’s overall sound. The vocals especially are uncannily even and strong. So instead of just being crushed by a falling wall of heaviness you also happen to notice the beautiful bricks and artisan-tier mortar work just before you get pancaked.
Aside from the obvious musical comparisons (Esoteric, Ahab, Mournful Congregation et al.) some of the more relaxed spacier moments remind me of Earth, like when the lush lead guitars take the forefront or start to softly echo around. It’s a nice example of how S keeps things interesting because the high end is incredibly rich without coming across as overly sugary. Many moments in the songs even have a delicate feel to them, some airy riff with effects whirling about in the background like leaves in gentle breeze. These moments however never interfere with the overall song structures, and even help to enhance them, which is critical when you have songs that are over fourteen, fifteen, and even sixteen minutes long.
The only flaw I really picked up on that I can’t chalk up to not being obsessed with funeral doom was how some of the effects are super obvious in the first song “Singularity.” I don’t know if it’s the distortion, fuzz, flanger, or phaser but during parts of the first half of the song I could have sworn there was some loose change or maybe a rattlesnake on top of my speakers. While a little distracting, particularly for such a crystal clear produced album, it isn’t a huge issue for the song or overall music. Otherwise I have no grips with S. It’s worth noting that while the band’s 2014 self-titled debut was pretty damn good, S is definitely a step up. Even after revisiting some of my favorite funeral doom albums (many of which are releases that are widely viewed as lodestars for the genre) I can safely say that S puts Mesmur up there with the greats.
Check out the Contaminated Tones interview with Yixja of Mesmur (and Dalla Nebbia) here.