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PETER BJÄRGÖ goes beyond melancholy into the dust of ruin with “Structures and Downfall”

Peter Bjärgö is a household name to anyone worthy of calling themselves an underground music fan. A name that hearkens back to a vibrant and very exciting time in music, where artists on the fringes of the metal, goth, and industrial scenes sought out labels like Cold Meat Industry and others to produce some of the most creative and unique milestones of dark ambient, post-industrial, and neoclassical darkwave.

These sounds called forth the legions of outsiders who wanted dark music without the rules, fashion, stereotypes, and restrictions that had begun to plague major underground and alternative music subcultures. His musical ventures matched the eclectic mindset of the era, whether it be with his dark apocalyptic Swedish death metal unit Crypt of Kerberos, or ventures into medieval romanticism with his most famous project Arcana, and his excursions into powerful martial industrial hymns with Sophia.

Though criminally underrated some of his strongest works were his less-known solo albums. This began with his powerful darkwave/dark ambient masterpiece Out of the Darkling Light, Into the Bright Shadow, a collaboration with Lithivm’s Gustaf Hildebrand, to his many subsequent works of slow, atmospheric darkwave. His solo efforts are usually much more personal and provide a contrast to his more grand escapist compositions with Arcana. With previous solo efforts Peter Bjärgö, had focused a large part of his work on melancholy and beauty, appealing to followers of acts like Dark Sanctuary or even Sopor Aeternus, culminating in the heart-breaking epic work Animus Retinentia.

By contrast, his latest offering Structures and Downfall is much more withdrawn and desolate sounding. The style is very similar, yet the tone and atmosphere here tend to veer away from the warm gothic-sounding melodic pieces, and into something along the lines of wandering through ruins of a half-remembered life, with a layer of dust and time obscuring the features and details of old paintings. “Inner Cathedral” welcomes us to a warm plot through the desert of existence with Peter ‘s distant chanting vocals providing a bleak narrative on the things seen and places revisited. The feeling on longing and emptiness is really a strong player on this album – a faded gallery brought to like through distant acoustic instruments, piano, and percussion that acts like a gateway from one place of remembering to the next.

Towards the second half of the album, the feeling of being alone begins to weigh down on the listener and a sense of tension and fear begins to creep more gradually into the remaining tracks, foreshadowed by the eerie haunting intro to “When Thoughts Become Your Enemy”. With acoustic guitars over cloudy ambient drones, “Dreaming of Some Purpose” brings to light the urgency of an encroaching menace, while “Disintegration of the Mind” impresses upon the listener the futility of existence and the embrace of impending inevitability, as “Winter Song” finally takes us into the quiet night, leaving our mind an empty blank space where thought and memory previously was, giving us the relief of oblivion. While it may not be quite as powerful or entrancing as The Architecture of Melancholy or Animus Retinentia, this is very much a natural progression building into the cycle set forth by those albums. A mesmerizing voyage into decay and nothingness, and the serenity of being released from the flesh. Best listened to as a whole piece of work, on a rainy autumn evening gazing out at the steel grey skies of solitude and losing yourself in nostalgia.


CYCLIC LAW will release Peter Bjärgö’s next opus on CD and LP formats, along with selections from his back catalog.

BANDCAMP

 

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Review

MEPHORASH craft an unwavering esoteric vision with “Shem Ha Mephorash”

Featuring members of the almighty Ofermod and Malign comes the soon-to-be-known Mephorash with their fourth studio album, aptly titled Shem Ha Mephorash. An unorthodox take on orthodox black metal, the monumental album is a welcome departure from the stereotypical blast beats and primal aggression that often seem to over-saturate the esoteric scene, opting for a more calculated theatrical approach.

Shem Ha Mephorash takes its name from the Kabbalah, a reference to the 72 fold explicit name for the one eternal God, a term that has also been attributed to the forgotten occult knowledge of the ancient Israelite king and later used in various walks of Satanism for ritual purposes. A felicitous title, Shem Ha Mephorash relies more on atmosphere than any of the previous releases, and as a whole feels more like a crepuscular ceremony than a metal album.

Tracks like “King of King, Lord of Lords” and “777: Third Woe” are reminiscent of the group’s more traditional sound, complete with churning blast beats and the soaring primal chaos we have come to expect from the genre, whilst hidden gems like “Sanguinem” and “Epitome I, Bottomless Infinite” (my personal favorite) follow a path less traveled with haunting female solo melodies and booming kettle drums resulting in a caliginous experience more often reserved for the more illustrious subsects of doom metal. At times Shem Ha Mephorash sounds like a cabalistic rendition of Shape of Despair, a record that obscures classifications and transcends subgenres whilst still managing to distinguish itself as its own original entity, a feat not to be taken lightly and an accomplishment many bands struggle to achieve throughout their entire career. This all comes to a head with Shem Ha Mephorash, the title track and epic conclusion to this metaphysical foray into the uncharted depths of orthodox black metal.

A must for fans of black metal, doom metal, and occult enthusiasts alike, Shem Ha Mephorash is a conceptual marvel and the outfit’s finest work to date, a welcome reminder that black metal and its respective subgenres are still alive and thriving, and that we have still just barely begun to scratch the surface.  Shem Ha Mephorash is a complex masterpiece that brings something to the table for all metal enthusiasts.


Shadow Records and Helter Skelter Productions will release the album on CD, vinyl, cassette and digital. Shem Ha Mephorash  showcases some beautiful traditional artwork by the talented Jose Gabriel Alegria Sabogal.

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