Mesarthim — The Density Parameter
After almost a year of radio silence, Australia's Mesarthim are back with another release — and this time, it's another full-length album. The prolific duo has kept up a steady release schedule of fairly lengthy EPs, but The Density Parameter is the first full album since 2016's .- -... ... . -. -.-. (it's Morse Code for "Absence"), and only the third in their whole discography. The title refers to an astronomical term which is, quote, "the ratio of the average density of matter and energy in the Universe to the critical density (the density at which the Universe would stop expanding only after an infinite time). You can learn more about that here, from people much smarter than I am.
The Density Parameter opens in a familiar manner, with a synth fading in, then the drums and guitars. There are no huge departures from the norm here, though the tone of the drums sounds a bit more fleshed out, though still very basic in terms of the beat patterns. The guitars are a bit 'bigger' sounding, though still fairly simple — acting mostly as a background texture. The vocals are a bit more sparse than on other Mesarthim releases, but they are still powerful and savage when they are featured. The final minute or two of "Collapse" really highlights the vocals, as a soaring scream blares over what I can only describe as an "alien blast beat." (The choice of synth for the lead is both incredibly odd and yet works so well.)
Where I described the last full-length album as a more minimalistic, guitar-heavy album, I would say say the reverse about The Density Parameter. The blast beats are minimal, the guitars are almost exclusively a backing instrument — providing a wall of buzzing sound — mixed with strings and chime synths. There aren't any real surprises on this album; those familiar with Mesarthim know, generally, what to expect at this point. Still, each new release offers appreciable tweaks and improvements on the project's sonic wheelhouse. If you aren't in the mood for a collection of sprawling, mid-tempo atmospheric metal tracks, then go ahead and give this a pass. There are some fast, crushingly heavy passages, but they are exceedingly sparse.
Overall, The Density Parameter is a much slower, more moody effort, compared to Mesarthim's previous output. As always, the production is excellent; everything is well recorded and mixed. I still have a love-hate relationship with the drumming on their albums; I understand the minimalistic approach and style, but it would be interesting to hear this material with the percussion acting as more than a metronome. That personal request aside, there isn't really anything to complain about here. The Density Parameter expertly mixes atmospheric electronica, the slightest tinges of black metal, and produces this wholly unique, extremely interesting music. This a very strong album, easily Mesarthim's best collection yet.
The third full-length album from Mesarthim leans heavily on the electronica side, but still embodies a metal spirit — and even breaks out into a roaring fury at times. The Density Parameter is 47 minutes long, broken down into 6 tracks which reward patient listeners. There are no short singles, this is highly atmospheric music that takes its time to establish moods and build to heavy climaxes. For those already familiar with Mesarthim, there is nothing unexpected but otherwise this is another quality effort. For those unfamiliar with this project, The Density Parameter is as good a starting place as any other relea.se.
Release date: April 2nd, 2018
Record label: Independent
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Published: April 11th, 2018.