Review: Mesarthim - The Density Parameter
Release Date: April 3rd
Label: Independently Released
Mesarthim is one of the more well respected of the modern "Atmospheric Black Metal" bands, taking inspiration form the likes of Darkspace or Paysage D'hiver. The spacey themes that envelop Mesarthim's sound generally aren't felt so much more than they are implied. The Density Parameter's surprise release allows more room for the space and cosmic influences breathe. I had first discovered Mesarthim on Bandcamp about a year ago, and the only reason I decided to give them a chance is because of the ease and access of checking out the music before buying it. I plan to do a post on the joys of Bandcamp at some point, cause for real I love it. Anyway, despite the difficulty of finding a good Atmospheric Black Metal band I decided to check out this band because of other's reviews. Others state that this is a band which is specifically better than most similar bands, and after exploring a bit I tend to agree!
Many of Mesarthim's past releases were very enjoyable, especially the short but sweet TYPE III, but they didn't stick with me for long. Usually I would listen to it once, then go on to something more interesting. But Mesarthim don't seek out giving the listener a diverse experience, usually they seek a more repetitive experience.
One of Mesarthim's trademarks is the dense wall of sound, a barrage of melancholy waves. The Density Parameter does a better job than most previous releases at diversifying the sound. Most notably are the synths, which are a lot more present here than previously. Whether they are providing a wash of laserbeams, or mimicking a church organ a la Hans Zimmer's Interstellar score (I can only assume this is the influence due to, well... the space thing) the synths provide a more nuanced show of melody than the guitars often do. The tremolo picked guitars have the important job of keeping the height of the wall of sound standing tall, they are almost ceaseless in their soaring. Another interesting element are the drums; normally overproduction, or noticeably processed mixing are often a detractor in my eyes, but the cleanness of the drum machine and punchiness of the kick drum make this a more interesting and unique experience. Think M83 drums in Black Metal, it is definitely a high point. I seem to be using this paragraph to state my opinion on the individual instruments here, so I guess i'll take a crack at the vocals. They are very typical Black Metal shrieks, albeit very powerful and with some very faint guttural vocals overlaid at times. Notably absent are the clean female vocals that have been found on some other releases, I'm not sure of the reason but I think they would have added to the album.
On previous releases, such as TYPE III and Presence, both excellent EPs in their own right, the mix is a bit softened compared to The Density Parameter, and less shrill. I found myself having to turn down my comfortable volume a few notches because of how piercingly treble-y this album was. It is certainly not a dealbreaker, but it is annoying. Because of this, I enjoy some of the shorter tracks on the album quite a bit more than the longer ones. The length limits the song's movements, and they have less time to be repetitive, a common complaint about most Atmospheric Black Metal.
The Density Parameter may be the best Atmospheric Black Metal album I have heard in a long time, but I really haven't searched far. There is a reason Mesarthim's reputation precedes them, and it is because they release consistent and diverse material. Surely there is no reinventing the wheel here, or the space station, but this is a very fun listen.