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Megalith Temple : European PM

An intriguing concept that falls short on clarity and execution marks this debut from Megalith Temple.

Before getting into the meat of 'European PM', I'd like to qualify a few points about me personally with the intention of familiarizing the reader with my background in music. I've been a lover of music since the very earliest of my memories, growing up with a wide appreciation of Rock from Sly and the Family Stone to the Allman Brothers to Judas Priest and of classical from Beethoven to Bach. When I went to college, I majored in music and found a love in particular for Easter European composers such as Bartok, Dvořák, and especially Shostakovich, recommended to me by a professor who I'd played 'Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk' by Emperor for. These composers were especially notable for injecting melodies from folk music into their compositions. I mention all of this without the intention of coming across as "high-browed" or a "snob", but rather to let the reader know the relationship I have already with this particular music and the variation I set about to review.

First, it must be stated that despite the album being labelled as "atmospheric folk doom metal" on the band's reverbnation site, this is an album that is far, far different. The band was founded in 2013, and according to their bio, the music is based on their passion and love for both doom metal and medieval music. In the seven tracks contained within, the band have reworked old melodies from Britain, France, Ireland, Scotland, Burgundy, and Normandy into their own unique take on the material as married with doom metal. The band's description of their work, however, is quite misleading.

In effect, the majority, if not all of the music sounds as if it is being performed on a synthesizer. While most modern synths have myriad tones with which to sequence music, the quality and diversity is simply not delivered on this release. The first track, 'Gherardel Part 1,' starts with an instrument that sounds close to a harpsichord and soon bells as well as percussion, percussion that truly comes across haphazardly as it seems to lack direction, are added. 'Triste Plaisir Et Douloureuse,' the second track, continues with the symphonic delivery, though the first strains of guitar on the album occur at approximately the two-minute mark. While it is effectively dramatic the way the guitar coincides with choir sounds, one cannot be expected to truly believe this is an actual guitar played on the recording. It has very much the sound of a distorted synthesizer, even less convincing than most modern synthesizers' versions of electric guitar. The "guitar" is recorded as simple strums, chords left to ring out while the more traditional instruments carry the music forward underneath. Track five, 'The Old Grey Cat,' starts with simple organ, but is soon adorned with ethereal synth sounds that open the music up and give it a much larger sound. The last track, 'Cailin Mo Ruin-Sa,' is the only track on the album with a melody that I recognized, though I do not say that in detriment to the earlier tracks. The closest comparison would be to liken it to an organ piece playing a simple folk melody as the basis for a hymn in church. It would be surprising that this was not the basis for a church hymn, and it turns out it is based upon a Scottish Gaelic traditional tune.

While the basis for this recording sounds intriguing for lovers of Metal and Folk music, the execution causes it to unfortunately miss the mark. The album is truly devoid of any aspect of Doom metal except for perhaps the way the "guitar" parts exist as strummed ringing chords. The intended guitar sound is about as convincing as video game soundtracks from over fifteen and twenty years ago. The music comes across as jumbled at times, and it's unknown as to whether this occurs because of not quantizing the tracks properly or if there are often just too many tracks. The music is closer to what would be considered new age than classical music, and the inclusion of "guitar" seems antithetical to the implied intention of the music in total. The songs seem to run into each other and drag on. Though the melodies are vastly different, this album gave me a similar feeling to the one I had when first listening to 'Hlidskjalf' , the Burzum album Varg Vikernes recorded in prison when he was only allowed a keyboard with which to compose. At best, 'European PM' could serve as background music as it could be interpreted as mellow but be advised not to attempt to listen too intently.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
1. Gherardel Part 1
2. Triste Plaisir Et Douloureuse Joy
3. The Old Rambler
4. Reuen
5. The Old Grey Cat
6. Gherardel Part 2
7. Cailin Mo Ruin-Sa

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Megalith Temple bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-04-21 by Chris Hawkins
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