From their upcoming debut release:
Tag Archives: Progressive Metal
Black Metal lends itself to experimentation, in my opinion, due to its rather generic soundscapes. Ultimately, if some of the musicians are to believed, writing for black metal is a formula in which the riffs culminate around a cold theme, and are swept up to a swelling catharsis. Mord’A’Stigmata promotes that they integrate Space Rock and experimentation into the subgenre. Being a fan of progressive experimentation, Space Rock, and Black Metal, I jumped at their offer to spin the album.
Like always, I have to determine what I know about the album, down to its name before I give it a listen. Knowing nothing about a band is not a terrible thing when coming to music (how else do we enjoy new sounds and new perspectives!), therefore, I didn’t give much time to looking into who Mord’A’Stigmata was, who their members are, and what their previous music is (I’m reviewing this particular topic after all, not their back catalogue). Instead, I focused solely on their album’s title: Ansia. Ansia, apparently, is the Italian word for anxiety. We all have our own perception of what this is and how it affects us. Having titled their album thusly, I expected a tense, roiling mass of music that draws only sometimes into the hypnosis of space and time.
Ultimately, I was wrong. The album, while it has its moments of tension, never becomes oppressively tense. Instead, their approach focuses on mystery wherein the coldest soundscapes of black metal (and the sub genre’s defining approach of tremolo and blast beat) are scant, playing on a role in a number of the pieces. The music’s rhythm section is its driving force, particularly the percussion which is unexpected and at times ominous in the feel it creates. The focus on the hypnotic, nearly trance inducing, music is amplified by the passages that slow down and plod along gently. The focus on these moment is evident in the length of the pieces (3 of 5 are more than 10 minutes in length, the fourth is over 7 minutes, and the fifth is an outro). Unlike other reviews, I did not focus on the lyrics at all, rather wanting the focus to remain solely on the music rather than its poetry; therefore, the voice can make you raw with its shrieks and lends itself well during the chanting moments.
Ansia is a solid album from a great group of musicians. In terms of technicality, Mord’A’Stigmata has absolutely no faults, making the compositions strongly focused. In terms of the album’s theme, Ansia never quite provides the payoff that great Black Metal creates. In fact, I never truly felt anxious or even considered the topic of anxiety while listening to the album (maybe I’ve become too desensitized!). The album felt more mysterious where its black metal moments are used to accentuate this mystery rather than to establish further tension. Generally, this is a good album that feel more based in psychedelia/space rock than in black metal, which is stunningly well performed by musicians that are comfortable in their approach. If anything could be better, I wish that the album would have given me that typical Black Metal catharsis.
Music for Steampunk fans.
I admit: I’ve never even heard Gorguts’ sounds until this album. I know nothing of their start and their famed Obscura album that apparently catapulted them into the minds of the metal community. I know now that their primary driving force is Luc Lemay, who’s French, and that this a concept album regarding Tibet, and that they are considered pioneers in the Technical Death Metal genre. I found this band on a lark from following Disrhythmia and Krallice and Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston. So, I decided I would give it a spin.
The first minutes of “Le Toit du Monde” brought me spiraling into a particular brand of discord set to the dancing rhythm of a waltz accented with harmonics to which I had never been party. Its tone ominous, monolithic, and cold, the song wraps you round its familiar rhythmic pattern as periods of brutality leap out, burning the soundscape into your head. The ebb and flow found on this song between soft and harsh accented with harmonics is indicative of the sound to continue; however, make no mistake, this is very much a Technical Death approach to the music and concept.
“An Ocean of Wisdom” is arguably the heaviest song off the album, rolling in smashing waves of the most extreme nuances of the sound. Yet, like the rest of the album, nothing ever truly feels that heavy. If anything, the discordant heaviness evokes a sense of muted trepidation like the coming of a heavy storm in the distance; the harmonics humming off mountain valley walls. What is most remarkable is that ultimately the exchange between the dualities made for the impression that I was never quite listening to a metal album, though assuredly I knew I was. Combining with “Forgotten Arrows” and “Colored Sands,” this section is the heaviest on the album, constantly breaking clouds in its swirl of dissonance.
“The Battle of Chamdo” breaks the album’s concept in half, transitioning from the death of the Dali Lama and the search for his successor to the injustices levied upon Tibet. If the album ever reaches a lamentation, it is here in the desperate strings that crescendo into the album’s second half with “Enemies of Compassion” that rips straight out similarly to “Le Toit du Monde” but never pulls back or down into the tense quiet.
Outrage becomes the music’s theme, but is used in focus maturely to never lose sight of the sounds or scope of the album. This section is a subtle balance between extremity, aggression, and making a point. “Ember’s Voice” details the use of self-immolation as a practice of protest by Buddhist monks, while “Absconders” highlights the feeling of alterity that Tibet receives from the West and from Tibetans. If there is a mission call, both in tone and lyric, “Reduced to Silence” hits it. Evoking the heaviness of earlier, but with the pensive restraint and dancing melody a pinning undercurrent, the song roars to the album’s conclusion abruptly.
You will want to either purchase the hard copy of the album with its associated lyric booklet or research the lyrics here. Lemay admitted that he spent between a year and a year and a half researching Tibet for this album. The lyrics and their associated quotes really, really bridges the gap between the music and the point. I am not one for much Technical Death Metal. I listen to it here and there, but it’s not my cup of tea. However, this album, in its nearly clinical precision and its well reflected conceptual approach, is definitely worth the purchase. In so many more ways, Gorguts demonstrates what it means to use music, specifically metal, as art and a mission statement.
Enjoy! Review posted later today.
Enjoy. If you do like it, then read the lyrics or the actual aphorisms.
And an interview with Witherscape: