MurmerAfter plunging the depths with their raw, feedback-abusing, drone-heavy and, at times, utterly inaccessible debut album, “Mainlining The Lugubrious”, this Chicago quintet have pulled back their black metal curtains and allowed in a little more light for their sophomore self-titled.

They have undoubtedly veered towards more of an intensive drone and psych experience, with only suggestions of their former Nachmystium and Burzum stylings shining through. Expect plenty of rhythmic anomalies, staccato attacks and even a little touch of punk nous thrown in to the mix. Tracks such as “Bull Of Crete” and the hellish dirge-into-mayhem of the two-part “Zeta II Reticuli” and “King In Yellow” form the bloodied fists of malcontent. It’s like finding the atonal nadir where These Arms Are Snakes’ vicious howls meet the avant-garde lunacy of Kong.

Retaining their love of ambience, you’ll discover amidst the dying paroxysms, dark bleatings and discordant noise, fresh shoots bursting forth from the dangerously jagged 11-minute monster, “Al-Malik”, and the soulful Latino flourishes of “Recuerdos”. Elsewhere, the album is only memorable for its lack of hooks, curiously liquid segueing between tracks and inconsistent tonal patterns.

What does ring true is their choice of bonus track. If Murmur’s ultimate fetish hadn’t been obvious before then the closing cover of King Crimson’s “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2” will nail that thought into your mind. Faithfully performed (though without the original’s kitsch instrumentation or warm blue tones) it seems a shame they neglected to insert as much of their heroes’ gnarly groove or deap-seated psychoses into the rest-of the album.

(4.5/10 John Skibeat)