Funeral doom is the ultimate slow-burn and, as a result, always has the same impending potential as that drifting iceberg lying in wait for the Titanic. It can be a long wait in cold dark waters but when the crunch finally arrives it can also be decimating. The problem is slowing down to the point where you can really appreciate it. It’s not just the super tanker impact of those plodding riffs, but more often the submersive, hypnotic atmospheres that only really pull you under after your mind sinks into the music and you reach one of those zen-like states of relaxation and sensory openness that is achievable only with the help of a) drugs and drink or b) a life of celibacy in a remote monastery. And so it was that, in the traditional manner, I sat with a bottle of the Co-op’s finest £4.99 Fairtrade Sauvignon and offered up my consciousness to the good folk at Mesmur at full volume. It’s not a band I have previously heard of, nor could I find out much about, other than they bridge various parts of the US and, I think, Norway and Australia as well as having a few black metal and doom projects under their collective belts. But one thing is for sure: these guys know how to put together a funeral doom album. Some of it feels a little too much by-the-book – but that’s often all part of the game with funeral doom. The snails-pace and apparent lack of direction being an extra iron door to the outside world holding at bay all those uncommitted non-believers looking for a quick fix. One thing you can be sure of – you won’t find that in here.
But at the same time there is a carefully constructed will within each tune to let those trance-like elements sink their roots in, spreading like weeds and moss over the temple of those giant obelisk-like riffs. With delicate subtlety, glacial pace and the use of a few cosmic-sounding keyboard threads, Mesmur push onwards and inwards constantly pressing at the doors of your obstinate resistance until, finally, you give way to the sheer weight of atmospheric doom. The pace picks up to a virtual frolic during the second track but in reality, and with all funeral doom, this works best when the pace settles into a gargantuan rhythm and a decent bit of cosmic window dressing. Keyboards seep into the mixture and the album slowly builds itself around you (the subterranean city cover is great too by the way). Finally, the last track lifts things to another level altogether helping to cast a new light on the darkness that has fallen. There’s an intensity to the track that’s not really achieved elsewhere on the album before a break into drifting piano and a final, blissful crescendo. As is so often the case with great albums, you realise that it’s only once you’ve heard the final seconds that you can try to put the rest of what you’ve heard in context. Mesmur is oddly compelling in a way, like a lot of this stuff, that is difficult to put your finger on but once you’ve spotted it, it’s like flicking on a light. This, the band’s first outing, is a nicely woven conceptual web that demands a bit of patience and repeated listens.
(7.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)