This time of the year is notorious for miserable days, where being completely down and dark is as natural as feeling rejuvenated in the summer. Like, right now it’s cold, damp, dark, and lousy outside, and it’s the middle of the afternoon. It might as well be time to go to sleep and forget you’re alive.
That’s makes the arrival of Mesmur’s debut album just perfect for this time. The North Carolina-based funeral doom band packs more than 53 minutes and five tracks of downtrodden punishment into this thing, and listening back today for the umpteenth time proved the best backdrop possible outside my window for this music. It’s slow, it hurts, it feels utterly hopeless, and it won’t turn your dark emotions into anything bright. Might it drive you further into hiding, where the sight of anyone or anything is the last thing you wish to encounter? Sure. But it’s also possible you need a record and band that feels as emotionally crumbling as you do, and for that, this band more than delivers songs that’ll equal, and even surpass, any blackness you suffer from the season.
If you’re a fan of bands such as Evoken, Mournful Congregation, Catacombs, and Thergothon, you’ll find yourself right at miserable home with this slow-driving debut record. The band is comprised of veterans of other bands, with mastermind Yixja, also of Dalla Nebbia, supplying the pace-setting guitar work; vocalist Chris G (Orphans of Dusk, Intorment Black) offering his guttural, stomach-clearing growls; Aslak Karlsen Hauglid on bass; and Alkurion (Dalla Nebbia, Funeral Age) behind the drum kit. Their sound is penetrating, vicious, full of salty, bitter tears, and a great way to wallow with your own bad tidings for an hour so that you come to realize you’re not the only lost soul stuck in the dark.
“Deprivation” opens the record with a slow chug, spilling the first helpings of doom into your lap and letting the dark, thick clouds set up. Once the song gets moving, it has a slight Opeth feel (think “Still Life” and “Blackwater Park” eras), toying with tempos before finally letting loose with lurching growls and furious heaviness. The pace switches back and forth, crumbling into crushing sequences but always letting that intensity subside as they allow more tranquil moments to trickle. The song ends in a deep fog, with you feeling your way through the mystery. “Lapse” is decidedly heavier and crunchier when it opens, showing the band’s more pulverizing side. The guitars pierce the skin, while the growls are menacing, and sorrowful melodies slip behind all of this smoke. At the halfway point, the track goes nearly silent, with only cosmic whirring audible at all, before the fires light up slowly again. The vocals go from whispers to growls, and all of the elements dissolve into the murk.
“Abnegate” is the second-longest track on the album at 12:14, and it’s an emotional mammoth. Keys open the book lid, giving off a gothy sense, and slowly delivered crushing continues from there. The growls sound like they were scraped from the ground, bleeding, as they are full of anguish, and pained guitar melodies and an overcast bottom end help hammer home the sense of dread and pain. Spacey winds blow in, with things holding in place as a chill freezes your heart. Soloing then arrives, giving the song a proggy bend, and from there growls return to offer final gasps of suffering, with everything ending up in a dismal crunch. “Descend” is awash in atmosphere at first, with the sounds buzzing and later striking out, entering a slow boil that gives off the proverbial steam. The vocals are more monstrous than elsewhere, as the band builds dreary layers on top of each other to make the pressure on your psyche even heavier. Closer “Osmosis” starts with quiet murmurs, strange noises, and slowly meted-out doom. The cut blows open, with the growls pushing ahead, guitar melodies drizzling like acid rain, and eerie voices calling out in distress. There’s a sense of panic evident, with wallowing cries exploding from G’s throat, melodies encircling and preparing to suffocate, and gusts of noise rising and disappearing into the night sky, with you left gazing.
As noted, Mesmur won’t help you rebound if you’re one of the many of us who struggle through these bleak months. The band’s debut is great company, however, like a tortured partner who is the only one who can identify with your pain because they’ve been down the same path. This is fearsome, desolate doom that will make you want to climb inside your closet, bury yourself in layers, and stay there until the faintest hint of sunlight and warmth return again.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/mesmurdoom
To buy the album, go here: http://www.auralwebstore.com/shop/index.php
For more on the label, go here: http://www.code666.net/