Monday, February 27, 2012

Et Moriemur - Cupio Dissolvi (2011)

From the majestic city of Prague, in the Czech Republic, comes a band that is putting their own spin on the death/doom style. Et Moriemur have a clear purpose, a very distinct content to present. Contained in the nine songs of their new album, "Cupio Dissolvi," are true stories of suicide. The darkest of endings is not lost in the most dire of musical styles, but rather brought to life through the music and lyrics. And while this isn't your typical death/doom offering, it does embody all of the more prevalent keystones of the genre. Throw in the use of six different languages, and you have yourself a worthy change of pace.

The somber tones that open "Deliverance" are exactly what an album of this nature demands. Immediately, you are greeted with two completely opposite vocal deliveries, jumping from the clean singing into deathly growls. Singer Zdeněk Nevělík dominates the low register, shaking you to your core. His presence, whether it be during the heavier portions or the light, clean guitar passages, is undeniable. And while his vocals are sharp, his keyboard entries are precise and well crafted. The layers of sound that emerge are crisp, even when the mix is not. The follow up, "Deep," takes a similar route, building from light melodies into something much larger, much more dense. The keyboards add a demented fun house feel, tying together the pounding of drums. But contained here are stories of sadness, the overwhelming feeling of helplessness felt by the people who lived the stories. The explosive chorus sections cut through the tension like a knife, even unleashed a flurry of double kicks. Nevělík's voice takes on another facet, a raspy, harshly delivered scream. The thrashing guitars and drums disappear, leaving only a piano melody to carry the breakdown. The air of beauty comes through, even when all is bleak. The quiver in the vocals is all the proof you need of the emotional weight being carried here.

A more conventional track, "Insatiable Wrath" brings to mind some of the best of the genre, from Helevorn to newcomers As Autumn Calls. The dueling guitar parts are perfectly intertwined, with one playing slow notes over the distorted chords of the other. The flood of atmospheric keyboards syncs perfectly with the rumbling of drums and guitars. It isn't often that one 30 second clip can give you chills, but you may find just that in the breakdown here. The vocals remain dark, growling ahead over clean guitars. The title track to the album, "Cupio Dissolvi," has the most innocent of beginnings, with  xylophone sound echoing through the air. But by the time Nevělík's blackened vocals enter, all of the purity of those sounds has gone. The drums are seemingly endless, and the guitars gain momentum with every chugging chord. But a break in the distortion reveals a keen sense of melody and morose. There is a more traditional doom feel to this track, finding a romanticism of sorts in the dark subject matter. It is hard to convey in a lifetime all of the sadness that the band pours into each note, and there is no better representation of that than in the waning moments of this track.

The longest track, "Cross And The Rose," brings back the dynamic mentioned earlier, throwing Nevělík's growling style over clean music, this time including a melodic bass line that may seem to come from nowhere. The constant changing of tempos and patterns keeps the flow fresh without disturbing the delicate balance of harsh and heart breaking. The return of atmospheric keyboards hammers home the sorrowful lyrics, while the constant thunder of drums, guitars, and bass keeps the track on point. As clean guitars take over, whispered vocals float by, only to be dashed to bits by the oncoming storm. But with each gray musical cloud comes a silver lining. In this case, "Vanity In Vain" is just that. The xylophone sound returns, with screeching, but whispered vocals layered on top. There is a simplicity to the construction, but a clear sense of timing and melody as well. It would be hard to deny a similarity to My Dying Bride, especially in the latter stages of the song. And by no means is that an insult in any way. The doom elements on display are impressive, and the extreme contrasts take the song to a different arena entirely.

The more heavily played "Abstain" jumps back to the deathly side of things, erupting from the opening moments with more of Nevělík's deepest growls. Double kicks fly by you from all angles, enveloped in rapid chugging guitars. And while things do slow down, musically, the torrential rains of emotion never stops. From the clean vocals to the growls, each word seems to take you deeper into the stories of these lost souls. The beautifully constructed and aptly titled "The Last Poem" builds from a solemn piano, backed by light keys. Even as the guitars enter, distorted and crunching, the piano continues on, adding in a layer that is rarely utilized in this style of music. This variation on the traditional formula opens the door for more instruments to come through. After building to a boil, the track comes back down in a heap of strings and piano tones. Without breaking stride, "ªal" begins. If the previous eight tracks haven't moved you, this one will. Light, clean guitars and synthesizer produced woodwinds accompany softly spoken words. A fitting end to the album, and a fitting end to the story.

The common misconception that metal is devoid of emotional investment rarely seems to be challenged by the more mainstream metal acts. But Et Moriemur have proven that metal, in any form, can be more than blasphemous stories and Satanic undertones. They are heavier in places than a traditional doom band, but more heartfelt at times than death metal usually allows. The combination of the two results in an album that is powerful in so many ways. And while it is nearly impossible to convey all of the sadness, hopelessness, and sorrow that surround the thought of suicide, "Cupio Dissolvi" is successful in bringing the darkest days to light.


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