I feel I should make a point of mentioning, right from the start, that I might not be the best – or most qualified – person to be talking about this album. My mother, bless her, brought me up on old school blues, 60’s and 70’s psychedelic rock, and heavy metal from a time when it had no sub-genres. As a consequence, and with limited experience in much of the vast sea that is metal these days, often the only artists I can draw on for comparison are Iron Maiden, Metallica, Judas Priest, Motörhead and maybe a few others, none of which will do here.
So, with that in mind, I want to talk about a black metal album that made me do something I haven’t done in quite a long time:
I listened to the opening track over at Bandcamp and decided to buy the download. I then listened to the album obsessively for a week, until finally I couldn’t help myself and bought the CD.
I’m not going to delve into the intricacies of how my mind works to try and explain to any satisfaction why I do things like that, other than that the immediacy of a download is sometimes far too alluring, and the appeal of a physical product is sometimes even more so. This, ultimately, makes at least one of the purchases somewhat redundant, but I don’t care. Sometimes I just want what I want and there’s no talking “sense” to me.
As mentioned, I’m relatively green when it comes to black metal. I’ve sampled a few artists here and there, but often I just don’t get it. To be more specific, I am generally left wondering just what the hell it is I’m listening to, and why. This, however… Well, Murmuüre’s album is something special indeed.
The use of a flute got my attention from the outset. In the mid-90’s, my obsession with Asian cinema, particularly Hong Kong action, was such that I bought films to watch at a rate which I now buy music, so it wasn’t just interesting to hear those notes fluttering over an opening track, but they brought back a veritable montage of much-loved heroes in their moments of reflection – those moments when they were deep in thought, pending life-changing and/or threatening decisions flickering over their faces as they look out into the distance, right before stuff gets serious and fists start flying.
And they really do fly:
Murmuüre’s album is steeped in intense introspection, resonant with ritualistic mysticism and rife with hard-hitting, occasionally crushing, weight – the overall effect of which is unlike anything I’ve heard before, and from reading the reviews over at Aquarius Records, it seems obvious to me that has nothing to do with any lack of knowledge in the genre. Much greater insight into just what has gone into making this album is given by reading this blog post by the artist behind the album, which (amongst other things) indicates I’ll never hear anything like this again – a prospect that is slightly disappointing, but fitting none the less.
This album surprised and impressed me in almost unprecedented amounts; so much so that in the rather brief amount of time I’ve been listening to it, it’s climbed rapidly in my list of favourites for the year (something which will be reflected elsewhere shortly, since I missed the opportunity in my original list). While I may be a little hyped about it, I’m pretty darn sure I know the difference between a fleeting enthrallment and long-term admiration. The more I listen to it, the more I know this is very much a case of the latter.