And relax… time for some funeral doom. You know the drill. Slow the metronome down to a heartbeat pace that would leave you clinically dead and hope for the best, right? Except that every time I return to this scene it’s almost always to be reminded things are very much alive and, even in sub-genres where you think you’ve seen it all, there is ample room for pleasant surprises. That’s particularly true with bands like Mesmur where the enjoyment is as much in the nuance and technical trickery as it is in sheer heaviness.
The human components of the band – from Italy, the US and Australia – have also worked on an interesting mix of projects from doom death (Orphans of Dusk), black metal (Dalla Nebbia, Intorment Black) and, in the case of its Italian bass player, various prog metal and power metal bands (Chaoswave and Lightless Moor). The result, while remaining in the confines of the genre, is something that feels more adventurous than the average. The best comparisons I can give you are Mournful Congregation or the ever prolific Monolithe (due to release its latest in a matter of weeks).
Terrene is an unfolding journey that meticulously crafts gloomy lows, often with jarring, discordant riffs and vocals that are sometimes barely discernible from the background distortion and gently oozing the light within the darkness that is normally and so sombrely offered up in Mesmur’s aural repasts. The bittersweet breaks are, thankfully, still dripping with gloom as the strings and lead guitar usher in the final half of opener Terra Ishtar, but there is little else here that will satisfy those looking for a comfortable ride to box-ticking funeral doom.
The 12 minute anti-epic Babylon, for example, is the hardest ride of the album. A plodding march across the shattered rocks and stones of long-since fallen temples and Hanging Gardens rather than seizing the opportunity for anything conspicuously grandiose. From there the album delves even further into a spiralling, spacey take on the genre which will delight anyone who finds sinking into sounds of trippy gloom on their days off and attractive proposition. Unlike Monolithe, the experimentation here teases at the edges of your senses rather than thrusts it before you, while also managing to build Mesmur’s own ashen-grey world of cheerless despondency where the only progress is the steady but certain crumbling of civilisation.
Terrene is a gigantic structure of near ambient sounds that purposely stumble from the humanly organic to the fringe of industrial strains. Tectonic riffs and oppressively dissonant guitars fade in and out of consciousness while hints of melody drift just out of reach. For anyone who picked up previous efforts – 2014’s impressive self-titled debut and 2017’s sumptuous follow-up, simply called ‘S’ – this will all come as a welcome and confident evolution of the Mesmur sound even though I wouldn’t go as far as to say this surpasses either. Terrene is just, well, different. Whether non-funeral doom adherents will have time or patience to delve within the albums slowly disintegrating astral nothingness is another matter entirely. But this is Mesmur and there is no apology on the tin for the casual trespasser or the musically unwary. Only doom.
(7/10 Reverend Darkstanley)