The Rickety Old Shack

Mesarthim — Isolate

Mesarthim - Isolate, cover

After my introduction to this project via their Pillars EP, I ended up seeking Mesarthim out on Bandcamp and buying all of their existing material. This included another EP, a single called "Suffocate" and this full-length album. For a project with such a short existence, they've been consistently releasing material every few months. Isolate is the project's first official release, and sets the tone for each release to follow after it.

Isolate is 6 tracks of mid-tempo, well produced, atmospheric black metal. The drums sound as though they are programmed, but could be very processed and compressed live drums, or just played on an electronic kit. Droning guitars, bathed in reverb though still crushing and commanding in presence drive each song forward. The distinguishing elements of each track are the electronic interludes, as each track drifts from droning, cascades of guitar and sequenced blast beats into melodic piano pieces and synth-heavy groove sections.

The vocal elements of Mesarthim are tortured screams and wretches, characteristic of black metal but heavily processed and mixed so as to blend into the background. The words themselves inaudible, the vocals lend a primal aspect to an otherwise very polished, digital presentation. The audio production is crisp and clean, keeping all the disparate elements sounding like they belong together. The synths and piano tracks lending a vast, spacey feeling to the album which blends perfectly with the wall of guitars and pounding drums.

Since I happened upon Isolate after hearing a fair amount of this project's later work, I find it hard to give the album a fair shake. I enjoy it, and there is nothing inherently bad about it, I just find myself defaulting to other releases in Mesarthim's catalogue when looking for something to listen to. The whole record is a good listen, and sets the tone for all the later releases in their discography. Sonically, all the usual elements are there, but the hooks aren't quite as sharp.

Summary

A solid, respectable debut from an obscure black metal project. Eschewing any sort of fame or recognition, Isolate is a space-themed atmospheric black metal release which blends a tightly woven mix of electronic instrumentation and blackened fundamentals. Mesarthim have proven to be an incredibly prolific duo, and this record may get lost in the sheer volume of material they have released in such a short time period.

Album Information

Release date: July 26th, 2015
Record label: independent

. — vocals
. — other

Track Listing

  1. Osteopenia
  2. Declaration
  3. Interstellar
  4. Abyss
  5. Floating
  6. Isolate

—by Derek

Published: April 15th, 2016