The Heavy end of rock music spectrum is the definite home of magic. For past forty years it has attracted the souls who are drawn to crushing riffs, melancholy, edge and those that have a tendency for the dramatic. If not in their personal lives, then at least in the music they devour for sure. The odd kids of the block, the loners, the weirdo’s, the loud ones, the ones who find universes in a pile of records.
Once or twice in a decade there comes an album that reminds us all of what the music fandom was originally about. Where it came from. A special record that makes you look back to early days as a music devotee. Why we fell in love with this scene in the first place. These are the game changer recordings. The faith invigorators and all important reminders.
“Mysterium Tremendum”, the third full album of Portland’s Lord Dying is such a thing. An album you love to get lost into and get lost with. Simply, a record that has everything the heavy music fan might ever need. Rich in details, overflowing with emotion, yet never overdoing either of them. There are mellow passages, enchanting musicianship, dramatic heavy chugging tones and enough progressive thinking to keep everything fresh and interesting, even after numerous listens. Shit, it actually gets only better the more you get into it.
Here we have a record that takes the bluesy heaviness of Black Sabbath, boosts it with tradition of Progressive Rock and big scale Voivodian thinking, throws in the joyless wail of grunge and beats it in the mould with 21st century heaviness we all have learned to love by now. Actually, listening to “Mysterium Tremendum” is like visiting a museum of heavy music, or watching your favourite documentary that was never filmed. ‘Here you have the proggy extremity of Ihsahn and in the next room you can hear the influence of Soundgarden, or Alice in Chains’, a guide of the Lord Dying museum would say. The tour goes on, and Mastodon‘s “Leviathan” flashes by and soon we are here, in the present day and age, looking in to the future and thinking ‘fuck, what a ride, and it has only just begun’.
Each of these bands mentioned, were game changers in their prime. They shook the status quo, exposed the fake pretenders and ridiculed the ones who did not try hard enough. They did what they did without the hype, through the music instead. Pushed the boundaries with their timeless art that changed and saved lives. And now, here comes the line to remember: Lord Dying has risen to fly with the masters on their new one. Remember this.
“Mysterium Tremendum” is above anything a great Heavy Rock album. Trying to shove it into any imaginary box we journalists love, is simply a waste of time. It’s a roller coaster of a ride, bold in design, and with so many moving parts in it that with a single wrong move it could have collapsed in its own impossibility. But it never does that. “Mysterium Tremendum” simply defies musical gravity, like a reversed pyramid. From the Voivodian “Envy the End”, to melancholy of “The End of Experience” (‘there is no god, there is no love, there is only us’), to bursts of “Exploring Inward (An Unwelcome Passenger)”, and the reach the climax of harmony guitar driven “Lacerated Psyche” it is a journey from destination to destination. With the greatest views. “Mysterium Tremendum” is a whole body, and more than a mere collection of songs. It is an entity of its own, with several hands, legs and heads. How Lord Dying managed to make the Frankenstein’s monster walk, I do not know, but there it goes, wobbling away and we cannot stop watching it go.
Above anything, “Mysterium Tremendum” is a record with great sadness in it. There is acceptance too. and maybe even a slight bit of hope, blinking at the end of the tunnel. Maybe it is the variety of human emotions shared that makes this album this great, eventually. that is at least the thing one is left thinking the most, between the listen and re-listening. The process of a musician pouring his/hers soul through the instrument chosen to a point where it makes the listener sit down and think ‘holy fuuuuck’, is maybe too difficult for any scientist in the world ever to define, but with this particular record Lord Dying have found the best possible formula to do it.
Rating – 5/5.
Um. fuck. what the hell am I supposed to say after the magnificence of the PCO. He rally has nailed it, like Christ on the cross, but I do have a few more words to add. Yes, this is utter fucking brilliance. Voivod, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, oddly enough Onslaught (the “Welcome to Dying” song in particular, the tone), all spring to mind. Sludge for sure, Death Metal is there showing it’s skull like face, Progressive Metal is sitting back laughing at us all, technicality up to the eyeballs, and yet, as the PCO stated a great sense of melancholy, as if something is lost, never to be found again.
One cannot simply go past “Exploring inward (An Unwelcome Passenger)” and the following track “Severed Forever”, such a level of excellence is hit that you have no idea in which direction you are facing, and the outlook isn’t one of a sunny disposition, I guess the only way to explain it is not to. It is all in your ears, and your mind, and for you alone to take this journey. No parlay is given from the very start, “Envy The End” is just about exactly what I want from this band, I adored their first full length “Summon the Faithless”, and this track is very reminiscent of that. Their second one “Poisoned Altars” unfortunately didn’t grab enough of my attention. I thought ‘fuck, what a shame’ because they had so much promise, and it didn’t deliver. A great album nonetheless, it just didn’t stay long on the proverbial playlist like the first, and this fucking monster, which hasn’t left it.
“Tearing At The Fabric Of Consciousness” is the first point of reference for how this thing will play out, the vocal harmonies are the beginning of sheer class. The heavy is there, the lyrics are spot on. How the fuck did these guys even begin to imagine this album is beyond me. From lovely to horror and pain in a second, you simply cannot pause, or move, or in the later parts of the album, breathe. We all hate a bloody musical, but this could be one, Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds” for the new age, and this is not something I say lightly, as to me that was the defining moment in musicality that I always look to. Yeah okay this is not a bloody musical, but holy shit does this thing put a story in your head. You think I’m over exaggerating, I’m not. Try “Nearing The End Of The Curling Worm” for your dose of fuck you, and then you will feel and understand this more than any words I can ever say.
My advice? Read the above, from Markus, oops, the PCO, for he surely knows his stuff, and can explain things far better than I, then start the album. Listen to it again. Then go have a think about how fucking awesome it is, how the songs stick in your head like glue, and then tell all your mates they are complete arseholes if they don’t give it a crack.
Album Of The Year? Yep. So far it is.
Rating – There are not enough points to give.
If you don’t get this, you are dead to me.