Title: Diapiric (EP)
Label: Sludgelord Records
Release Date: 16 January 2020
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
If I have one life changing musical discovery to note from 2019, it has to be Sludgelord Records. But of all the awesome releases I’ve found on this label, from bands like TORPOR, FAWN LIMBS (another project of frontman Eeli Helin), MALEVICH, OPIUM LORD, ROWSDOWER, SHALLOW GRAVE, WALLOWING, CRANIAL (many of which I’ve reviewed for BAZ), one that somehow (completely unjustly) slipped my attention till now was Finland’s MIREPLANER. “Diapiric” was, in fact, the band’s debut release, coming out in digital form back in 2018. They followed this up with a full-length album (last year’s “A Mountain of Saola Hooves”), but it’s only now with the full CD release of their debut, that I’ve realized what a mistake I made in initially glossing over this band.
Across two tracks and eighteen minutes, “Diapiric” takes the listening on a journey of shifting levels of intensity (akin to NEUROSIS at their most fluid and shapeshifting), all carried along with this very powerful, eerie, otherworldly atmosphere. Whether the music is floating in almost ambient soundscapes, or furiously pounding, it’s all so organically blended together, to feel just absolutely natural and seamless.
Opening track “The Hanging Trees” immediately reveals the excellent, clear production, with a great, rich bass sound. To start with the track is maybe a little reminiscent of A PERFECT CIRCLE in terms of the feel and the atmosphere, or some similarly dark early 00s Metal. The screaming vocals of Eeli (also contributing guitars and what is intriguingly referred to as “noise”), alternate between a rasping Hardcore/Sludge Metal shout and a higher scream, that has a flavour of Mike Patton or Phil Anselmo. (Definitely, good vocal reference points as far as I’m concerned.)
A repetitive, hypnotic guitar line evolves throughout the track, as drums, guitar, and vocals morph independently. A spacey breakdown into an ambient floating passage might suggest the end of the track, but instead, it fires back into life with guttural bass and crisp drums. This kind of drawn out, hypnotic style might be what you’d consider Post-Metal, but I’m often left cold by this type of music; MIREPLANER stretch out, but in a way that never gets boring or repetitive somehow. Yes, there’s repetition, but the music is always evolving in a way that suggests repeated listens will keep offering up newly discovered textures and subtle melodies. The great production really helps to bring out the crisp drums, with all the little variations ringing out perfectly.
“Hinterlands” picks up from the opening track, linking in with some ambient textures. Echoing, heavily distorted guitars (I think they’re guitars), and vaguely tribal sounding drums create an initially sparser landscape. Once again the production is so good. After some spacious, ringing guitar arpeggios carry the track for a while, the vocals finally come in over two minutes into the track.
Being over ten minutes in length, there’s plenty of time for the band to build the atmosphere and elegantly transition through a variety of terrains. A lot of this is brought about by the great drumming, which goes from, simple and stripped back to a sudden and brief hammering barrage and then off into another mode again beautifully.
The roaring vocals work well as a counterpoint to the minimalist guitar and crisp drumming. The transitions are great and so organic. There are no wild tempo changes and crazy right angles; it’s all a linear progression but through so many aspects of one theme.
This is a great eighteen minutes of intriguing, otherworldly Metal and on “Hinterlands” a surprisingly emotive aspect that caught me off guard. Give this band your full attention, there’s something going on here and it’s very, very good. 9/10 Tom Boatman
9/10 Immortal Classic
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