Mesarthim - The Density Parameter review

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Band: Mesarthim
Album: The Density Parameter
Release date: April 2018

01. Ω
02. Collapse
03. Transparency
04. 74%
05. Recombination
06. Fragmenting

Since 2015, the mysterious Australian duo known known as Mesarthim has been on an unbroken streak of high-quality soundscapes. Much of their previous two albums and five EPs stuck to a consistent style of atmospheric black metal interspersed with electronic elements, and I'd have welcomed more of the same, but The Density Parameter has a little bit of a different flavor.

With ominous, leathery drums keeping a steady pace behind walls of reverb, black metal riffs that stack into distorted waves of motion, and near-wordless wails that amplify the noise, The Density Parameter, more than most Mesarthim releases, invites comparison to Summoning. Synthesizers fresh out of a straight-to-video dark fantasy film expound on the conceptual similarities, and when "Ω" suddenly bursts into an expansive and dramatic climax heralded by choral effects, I can't help but picture the Falls of Rauros - but Mesarthim is on a different trip altogether.

Outer space is Mesarthim's playground, and these are the sounds of space: the nebulous, vast, and cold products of an infinite blackness waiting just beyond our fingertips. Dungeon synth is fine and all, but we'll leave that to the Mountain King - Mesarthim has computers. Mesarthim made a name for itself as a cosmically inclined atmospheric black metal band, and the duo continues to carve its name into this side of the genre; the band's signature sound lies nestled within the washed-out glow of a world far beyond our own. This is spaceport ambiance, the soundtrack to a different kind of video game from the ones that Caladan Brood and Emyn Muil play.

Most interesting of all, however, is that The Density Parameter does not entirely abandon the medieval for the futuristic; within individual songs, focus shifts from electronics to organs and keys to harsh metal, creating a strange and beautiful tension between two eras and aesthetics. "Collapse," for example, closes with a furious blast of blackened sci-fi mayhem that comes right on the heels of a malevolent organ interlude. A couple of songs have what I'm calling "space drops": all the structural hallmarks of your typical bass drop, but the bass drops into the cosmos where there isn't an up or down so being "dropped" has less definition, and it's also more like keyboards and tremolo picking than anything else. The steady crescendos and decrescendos further balance the grim, eerie black metal with a breathing, biological structure that elicits different sounds without awkward cuts.

That Summoning sound is there, full and strong; it's not as though this is without precedent for Mesarthim, and the computerized effects do dominate most of The Density Parameter, but it's nice to hear Mesarthim constructing new facets to its sound and testing the conceit of space-based atmoblack. The Density Parameter ranks among Mesarthim's best work, perhaps above it, and I'd love to hear them get even more ambitious in the future.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 7


Written on 30.06.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 169 users
01.07.2018 - 07:06
Glad they're on Bandcamp! Great review, Steel!
01.07.2018 - 20:03
Written by Opethian on 01.07.2018 at 07:06

Glad they're on Bandcamp! Great review, Steel!

Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
03.07.2018 - 15:32
Keep hearing great things about these guys, but admittedly might have been avoiding them because with the overabundance of atmospheric and ambient BM bands these days I've started getting really picky with my listening... there are a lot of good to eh ones and just a small handful of truly great ones, basically. Thanks for the review though, definitely makes me think I need to hop onboard
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