Genre - Black Metal
Another band I've been keeping a loose eye on recently was Australian Black metal outfit Mesarthim, after a strong debut back in 2015 and a productive period in between, this duo have finally released their follow up effort. Now admittedly I fell behind in the metal scene last year due to varying reasons, but this among select others were a few that stood out for me. Peddling a highly symphonic and expansive, yet still raw and caustic variety of Black Metal, something not unlike Midnight Odyssey, Nychts and Lustre, was what drew me to them in the first place, because let's face it, I'm a complete sucker for this style of Black Metal ever since I saw the cover to Moon in the Scorpio all those years ago. Plus, it brings a welcome change to the immortal conflict over who can produce the most pretentious satanic bullshit these days which seems to be present in many corners of the underground at the minute.
OK, while on the subject of 'pretentious' you can't ignore the absurd title they have given the album which is '.- -... ... . -. -.-. .'. Yep, that is Morse code. Back in the day when us old farts used to go into physical shops to buy our cds/records, could you envision going up to the cashier and attempting to ask if they had this album? So if, like me, you're not exactly fluent in the nautical vocabulary, you'd be a bit... well... fucked. So after consulting my oft-used Morse code to English dictionary, the title translates to Absence. So that's what I'm gonna call it from now on. I guess in a sense it kind of fits the whole stellar demeanour and panorama Mesarthim are trying to create, that of insignificance, as speck of a lone ship, lost and drifting on a celestial sea. But yes, it still is pretty ridiculous. Track wise each tracks translates in the corresponding Morse code for it's number, that at least is relatively simple.
One of the aspects on Absence which struck me the most was how similar the core Black Metal arrangements are to those composed by Aussie scene powerhouse Tim Yatras, otherwise known as 'Germ'. Now not much is known about the members on this album as far as I know, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was involved in some way. It's a massively rich and layered album, tortured vocals tear through the tumultuous maelstrom of pulsating static guitar riffs like tendrils of ice while the brooding, glittering synths weave in and out. Superimpose Austere on top of the chromatic soundscapes of Summoning and a bit of “I am the Black Wizards” and you've got Mesarthim basically.
I find Black Metal like this can be a difficult one to pull off correctly though Mesarthim manage to strike the right balance between repetition and variation without going too overboard on the synth work. It's a style where so many other bands fail, either it's just overtly pretentious and not interesting enough, or they end up diving in feet first suffocating themselves in cheese. The album feels like one big track split into smaller sections, though each track still contains enough to differ it from the next.
I don't really have much other way to put it but Absence is an absolutely stunning and captivating release by these guys, its glittering soundscapes are absolutely dripping in atmosphere, where Limbonic Art were more on the psychedelic side, these guys on the nostalgic and wondrous. Definitely one to stick the headphones on, lie down in the back garden on a clear night and have a mid life existential crisis to. An impressive piece of progress from Isolate. Some would say Death rides a pale horse, but here he straddles an intergalactic motherfucking battleship.
Originally written for
The Metal Observer
If you like - Midnight Odyssey, Limbonic Art, Austere