Mesarthim — Pillars EP
After diving headfirst into the new wave of black metal scene, specifically the atmospheric sub-genre, I ended up coming across Mesarthim via an edition of Stereogum's Black Market column. The project was touted as a space-themed take on the atmospheric genre, and that — coupled with an album cover featuring a beautifully rendered space telescope photo — was more than enough to pique my interest.
Pillars is 38 minutes long, and presents a really compelling mix of rudimentary black metal riffing mixed with electronica elements strongly evocative of the 90s. It's really just the tone of the synth they used that makes me think of the 90s, Pillars is a very modern-sounding release otherwise. The mix of catchy electronic grooves and reverb-heavy guitar riffs works very well, and each track builds an epic, spacey atmosphere while transitioning through each sequence of riffs and catchy grooves.
A pair of tracks are over 10 minutes in length, and the remaining two are far from brief — both clocking in over 6 minutes — so it's lengthy by EP standards. Each track is anchored around a synth line and then layered with droning guitars, blastbeats and indecipherable screams. The juxtaposition of caustic, black metal style screams with clean, digital synths works much better than it reads on paper. Each track transitions between all-out fury and lower-tempo grooves really well, ensuring that nothing overstays its welcome.
For many listeners — myself included — this release was the first initial exposure to Mesarthim, and I still rate it very highly. As a long-time fan of black metal, seeing this project take the core tenets of the genre and fuse them with electronic instrumentation into long, sprawling pieces is a huge payoff. Pillars is a great effort, and a solid introduction into the more experimental aspects of the new black metal scene and its offshoots.
A very peculiar project, Mesarthim is stepped in many of the aesthetics of the black metal scene — including the aversion to fame or any specific attention beyond their musical releases — while also dabbling in progressive elements and mixing genres at their leisure. Pillars is 4 tracks of crushing guitars mixed with electronic melody and groovy breakdowns; a really unique blend of genres that I can't stop listening to. A host of ear worms for the experimental metalhead.
Release date: March 13th, 2016
Record label: independent
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Published: April 20th, 2016