Album Review: Mesmur – Chthonic

Album Review: Mesmur - Chthonic
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Mesmur are an interesting project that sees members hail from neuromuscular corners of the globe: the United States, Australia, Italy etc, they all come together now and again to craft their sound that is unmistakably Funeral Doom. Formed in 2013 and currently signed to Solitude Productions, the band appear to only get together for album releases and as a result, have yet to release anything along the lines of an EP or Single to keep fan interest going during the interim years between records. Now onto their fourth record and their first in four years, Mesmur seek to unleash another slab of Funeral Doom on our unsuspecting senses. Let’s look at Chthonic and what Mesmur are all about.

With introductory and closing tracks, Chthonic effectively sports only three full tracks throughout its duration. Naturally this brings audiences to realise Mesmur possess some longer tracks, yet for those fully affiliated with Funeral Doom, this is entirely par for the course. It’s also why the band don’t burst out of the gate when undergoing their first full piece either; to do so would go against the grain of what their aspired soundscape exhibits. Instead, the band unveil a trudging, keyboard-laden aesthetic that helps to bring a harrowing ambience ti their sound. Employing multiple elements throughout their performance helps provide Chthonic with more than what the band already utilise as part of their own instrumental and vocal presence. As a result, each track may be centred around ten minutes long, but the band offer enough to keep us firmly attentive and switched on to anything new the band wish to conjure for us.

The band’s take on Funeral Doom is to really lean hard on the sombre, doom aspect of their sound. Other bands under this moniker have utilised a more crushing, punishing soundscape where the riffs are stronger in mass, the impact is all the more meteoric and every breath we take is a relief. In that regard, Mesmur let us off easy by providing a guitar sound that has presence but hasn’t been so tuned into the mix that it’s weight becomes anywhere near suffocating. There’s a deep notion of atmosphere running through Chthonic however, the band have made the decision not to overbear us with aesthetics; the atmosphere is an abstract element the band use for its purposes but the crux of the record belies still within the individual performances that make up the primary songwriting. As Funeral Doom goes, Mesmur hit a sweet but central spot that allows us to experience the full weight of their sound whilst offering just enough atmosphere that it doesn’t deafen the band’s performance. One could say there’s been some compromise made but it works to the effect that no one side of this album grows overtly dominating.

Album Review: Mesmur - Chthonic

To mirror the pace the riffs move at, the vocals, as vastly deep and guttural as they are, have zero intention of speeding up. This is the pace by which Chthonic moves for the full record so people who anticipate more intense sequences, especially with the vocals, will be sorely disappointed. Track length aside, the vocals do well to settle us in for the long run as the band demonstrate how they’ll take their time getting us from start to finish. In addition, the vocal tone is just right for the form of soundscape Mesmur have crafted here; any higher or lower in pitch or timbre and the vocals would feel out of sync and wouldn’t mesh with the riffs at all. I’d also argue the vocals are just as immersive as any period of riffs too, seeing how prominent the vocals are to the songwriting; they’re clearly at the forefront of the band’s performance and so should not be shoved aside merely to ogle at the guitar work.

While this paints a portrait of an album that has clearly defined rules from one track to the next, the band’s last full opus, “Passage”, is where they demonstrate their willingness to take some risks. Completely sidelined from how else the record has gone, Mesmur unload a track nearly twenty minutes long and double the span we’ve been previously accustomed to hearing from Chthonic. If anything, it’s the make or break moment on this record for if fans have been content with their longer pieces beforehand, this is where that attention is out to the test since Mesmur change little up in way of songwriting for a track almost double the length. This continual engagement is so much more important here as, throughout the course of Chthonic, we become used to the idea that Mesmur propagate a total lack of hope, where the only constant this record champions is suffering. There are one or two breaks in the despair but these are only to let us recover from the wallowing, and prepare us for the next bout.

In conclusion, I believe Mesmur is going to be one of two things for a lot of people. I think people who are really into their Doom will buy into Mesmur’s elongated aesthetic and it’s particularly despairing atmosphere. On the other hand, I think many will attempt this record and find it not to their liking which is perfectly fine; Chthonic is an album that knows it’s place, knows it’s soundscape, and makes no effort to move anywhere outside the four walls it builds for itself at the very start of its duration. What you listen to at the start is what you’ll experience right at the end. For those after a more melancholic variation of Funeral Doom this might be an album they’ll want to check out, for its disheartening tones are present with nothing getting in the way of that soundscape. I know I enjoyed this work and I’m glad to have been able to check it out.

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