Title: Memento Mori
Label: Trepanation Recordings
Release Date: 25 October 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
I like split releases a lot. I get to see how two or more bands have their take on a certain theme as it usually makes for a very captivating listen, and even if the split doesn’t have a common idea, it’s fun seeing bands collaborating. Because split albums aren’t viewed as important releases in a group’s discography, they usually have a carefree feeling to them and the bands get to take some liberties they otherwise wouldn’t be able to indulge in. They get to experiment, to try new things while getting fewer idiotic comments like “Their early stuff was better”. And we get to enjoy this exact experimentation on the latest release on Trepanation Records, “Memento Mori” by Clawing and Catafalque.
“Memento Mori” has a 44 minute runtime and four tracks: one from Clawing, clocking in at 23 minutes, and three from Catafalque, two approximatively 10 minute ones and a short interlude of sorts. The title of the album is in direct relation to the cover. The idiom comes from Latin and it translates to “remember that you must die”. Throughout history, there have been various ways of remembering those who have passed away, but one of the most bizarre ways was during the Victorian Era when such a thing as post-mortem photographs existed. And I don’t mean at the funeral, in a coffin, oh no. Back then corpses weren’t such a taboo as they are today. During that time, to celebrate the life of a person that died, they would take the body and pose for pictures with it. A young girl between dolls, parents with their soon to be decomposed daughter, a husband embracing his cold wife for the last time. While I wasn’t able to find any exact information regarding the cover, it too is, supposedly, a reminder to the fragility of life and to how feeble the human body is. So even without playing any music, you might expect how it’s all supposed to sound.
The two sides of the album are quite different in style. Clawing goes, as I mentioned, for a longer, uninterrupted dark ambient track. It opens with a soft monologue that transitions to clear guitar plucks on a ticking clock background before harsh noise makes emerges from hellish depths, dominating for the rest of the movement. After the first quarter of the track we are greeted by another few spoken words that mark a shift in sound, with synths getting to be in the spotlight, while distant bells ring, announcing the coming funeral procession. As the second quarter reaches its end, the same voice makes another appearance, though this time distorted, ghastly, barely comprehensible, marking the darkest part of the song. Yet again, the soft voice speaks, however, it takes a few more minutes before the third part comes to a halt and a bass note heralds the last segment, this time a nightmarish industrial soundscape, leading up to a final lament that closes Clawing’s part of the split.
As soon as Catafalque’s first song began, it was quite evident to me that they became a bit more musical, if I could put it that way. “Drifting Ashes” feature a familiar drone that builds up for the entire duration of the track, yet new elements make an appearance. The fuzz is dialled down, making room for a crystal clear guitar and synths to shine. The interlude, if you could call it that, starts abruptly and it isn’t here to take any prisoners, but to decimate everything in its path. An industrial beat is sustained for the almost two minute playtime, while heavily distorted screams slip through the cracks and invade the track. The closing song, “Signs of Stigmata”, would be the most familiar one for those who listened to Catafalque’s debut, as it presents the same distorted drone, though with bigger proportions compared to “Drifting Ashes”. It gives off the feeling of a lingering soul, a last reminder, made to stick with you even after the album is done and you go on about your day.
If my short breakdown of the album didn’t convince you, let the music speak for itself with an early stream of the album you can check down bellow. Don’t miss the opportunity to remind yourself that we all owe one death on this wretched ball of dirt.
8.5/10 To Greatness and glory!
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