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Album Review: MURMUR Murmur

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Chicago's Murmur burst onto the scene with the awesome bummer of an album, Mainlining the Lugubrious. Since then they're no less bummed but they're also insane now, which is fun!

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The band has been adamant about their recent musical progression, and at first I couldn't fully agree with them.  The opening track, "Water For Water," sounds like something off of the latest Ihsahn record, Das Seelenbrechen, as each instrument wanders in creating an illusion of musical aimlessness. I can't say that this was something I am a fan of on this release nor Ihsahn's, but the track eventually collapses in on itself and becomes a pretty cool but fairly straight forward black metal affair.

This part of the song was much less Norwegian black metal and more like Nachtmystium, which I found out later was not a stretch for the band as they are Chicago natives, and have even released a split with Nachtmystium. This black metal portion lasted for a while before the melody returned and each instrument saunters out as they came. As this song concluded, I felt like I could see what I was getting myself into. I assumed this was a collection of songs presenting a melodic/chaotic duality for the band. However, as the record journeyed on, I realized that this would not be the case. There is much more to this album.

The second song, "Bull of Crete," is a stand out track. This nine-minute journey sounds like a mash up of some of my favorite bands like East of the WallMastodon and The Ocean all dabbling with a much darker tone. The latter third or so of the song sounds like a more dissonant Crack the Skye and I dig it for that. This was the first real step in a wholly new direction from the band's last record, and while their previous lo-fi atmospheric-ish American black metal approach was good, this is much more interesting. The epic that followed, "Al-Malik," continued the pattern of shutting down my naysaying as the band combined elements of GorgutsEast of the Wall, and some doom into one mammoth of a song.

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Every vaguely black metal record has that obligatory acoustic interlude track, and rarely are those interesting.  "Recuerdos" is that track on this album. However, it is actually a great song that I feel could be lost in all of the madness of this record. It has an early Pink Floyd vibe throughout and showcases a introspective and beautiful side of Murmur. Also, this serves as a much needed break before the albums next few tracks. The two-part "Zeta II Reticuli" quickly drops the pretty act and works its way back into the most dissonant and chaotic side of the band. These two songs weave the listeners in and out of quite a few time-signatures, styles, and moods ultimately settling into an unexpected Behold The Arctopus vibe.

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This one is certainly one for the open minded metal head/prog nerds. Further proof of this is the fact that the album concludes with a bonus cover of King Crimson's "Lark's Tongues in Aspic Pt. 2." The band definitely Murmur-ed their version up a bit and it comes off much darker, yet somehow remains true to the original.

This is overall an awesome experience of an album. It is very different and quite the journey. Anyone with a love for Dillinger Escape PlanSighNachtmystium, etc needs to hear this.

8.5/10

 

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