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Mesmur : S

Mesmur's sophomore lands a second Prog-tinged bullseye on the Funeral-paced Death/Doom target.

You may remember Mesmur from their self-titled 2014 debut, which - after a few digressions - saw physical release through Code666 Records, perhaps unjustly more usually noted for their eclectic and experimental roster than their steadily-expanding Doom catalogue. As a side-project of Prog/Black Metal band Dalla Nebbia, it set out to explore the boundaries of extreme Death/Funeral Doom, and did so with some considerable success. Well, hopefully, you took our advice on that and picked up a copy; if not, you're about to get the chance to discover sophomore release 'S', coming out through the unambiguously Doom conduit of Solitude Productions.

While it may be fair to say that a Solitude tag is a guarantee of Doom provenance rather one of automatically essential purchasing, you should definitely consider adding 'S' to the latter category. I couldn't say that - on the surface, at least - Mesmur have departed radically from the formula of the debut, but, regardless, they've produced a worthy extension of it. Essentially, you're getting three long (and one shorter) lush Funeral-paced Death/Doom compositions straddling a quite distinct balance between the melodic and the dissonant, and continuing the solid bedrock laid down by the album 'Mesmur'. Indeed, if you were going to contemplate anything along the lines of "the difficult second album", it would only be in the sense that 'S' is following on from a debut that basically got everything very right - it really didn't leave a lot of headroom for obvious or easy improvement.

So, in the same vein, and definitely from the same hands (there's only been a change of bassist, though the Dalla Nebbians are now credited by name rather than pseudonym), but not necessarily the same album. Partly down to a production which is a little louder and seems to have more of a treble bias, it sounds sharper and just that bit more angular, while the conceptual theme is more focused around the madness of the cosmos. Style-wise, it still has that quite brutal yet melodic core, with crashing guitar and deep growled vocals, that has echoes of My Shameful, while the more Prog-rock and spacier elements variously call to mind Mar de Grises and Esoteric, and - such as on 'Exile' - the shades of Porcupine Tree and 'Atom Heart Mother'-era Pink Floyd hover somewhere in the background. The shortest and dreamiest track, closer 'S = k ln Ω' (Boltzmann's entropy equation, if you're interested. Thought I'd just slip that in for extra smugness, since I didn't even have to look it up, despite not having looked at thermodynamics for a shockingly large number of years...) even carries some keyboard work that evokes thoughts of early Jean-Michel Jarre. And it's all wrapped in some stylish artwork, by Cadaversky, that does a great job of depicting all those aspects.

These, obviously, are all good things in their own right, and credit has to go to band mastermind YixJa/Jeremy L (music, lyrics, guitar and synths) for combining them in such a way that they remain good things when unified under a broadly Death/Doom banner. And that, perhaps, is the greatest strength of Mesmur's work so far: that it is genuinely eclectic in its approach, yet sounds completely natural in the way that meshes together. There's very little reliance on riff or repetition, instead the various guitar and keyboard instrumental lines thread together and flow continuously onwards. And though it does have that strong Prog feel, there's no sense of avant-garde experimentalism 'for the sake of it', just a smooth set of transitions and evolutions that span the entire album. Much as with 'Mesmur', in fact, 'S' presents just as strong a collection of individual tracks that are actually stronger when considered as a part of the synergistic whole of the album.

I genuinely can't think of any reason why this shouldn't have across-the-board appeal to extreme Doom fans of all persuasions. Nor can I find anything of any substance to criticise in either design or execution. OK, that might sound a little like sitting on the fence of "if you like this kind of thing, you'll love this album", but it isn't meant that way. It's more that Mesmur have managed to hit a proper Doom 'sweet spot' twice in a row, and I'm not a great believer in that sort of thing being pure coincidence. So - this is a band you probably should be both interested in and investing into, if you haven't already discovered them and been waiting for this sophomore. Either way, it comes highly recommended as one of the contenders for a top placing on my 'best of 2017' list.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Singularity
2. Exile
3. Distension
4. S = k ln Ω

Duration : Approx. 53 minutes

Visit the Mesmur bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-09-15 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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