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Rating:
8.5
Murmur - Murmur
17 January 2014


01. Water From Water
02. Bull Of Crete
03. Al-Malik
04. Recuerdos
05. Zeta II Reticuli
06. Zeta II Reticuli, Pt 2
07. King In Yellow
08. When Blood Leaves
09. Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part II [King Crimson cover] [Digital/Limited edition bonus]


If you were to ask the average person, it's likely that "black metal" and "technical" may not entirely be two things they would think of as going very well together. Fortunately for Chicago outfit Murmur, however, this fusion appears to be working out just fine, with some pretty splendid results. Brace yourselves, kiddies: the sun is colliding with the Earth, and we're in for some heavy weather.

Quite simply, Murmur's self-titled 2014 effort sees their music being taken to greater heights and exploring new frontiers. The harsh personality that the band previously established creeps in subtly here and there ("Water From Water," "Al-Malik"), but Murmur is also focused on things far bigger than the dark, sinister black metal that was employed before. Unlike Mainlining The Lugubrious, this new release is in many ways (was the King Crimson cover not enough of a hint?) more of a progressive album with some extreme tinges than anything else. With "Bull Of Crete" and both "Zeta II" tracks especially, Murmur carefully establish a new sound firmly grounded within a clever sense of melody, complex rhythm delivery, and some interesting clean vocals, all of which hint at many great things to come in the band's future.

Coming with this change of sound is an almost flawless level of production, that truly must be hailed as probably the best part of the album, and that helps to bring each musician's delivery out to its full potential. Drummer Charlie Werber, possibly the most impressive member of Murmur on this release, conjures thoughts of Mastodon's Brann Dailor, weaving jazz-influenced beats all around his fellow band members' playing, that only a crisp attention to detail could fully capture the power of. Other parts of the puzzle likewise follow suit: the bass rumbles along audibly, the synths are warm and fuzzy, and the clean vocals have a way of popping out without seeming to overpower the rest of the music.

Murmur is essentially the type of album I strive to look for in today's black metal scene: one that retains qualities of the genre, while trying out some fresh and new ingredients, and strikes a fairly good blend between the two. The album is heavily progressive and technical, but not to the point of pushing listeners away with a vibe of pretentiousness, and the darker tracks of the album help to assure listeners that the band certainly haven't abandoned their black metal personality completely. Closing their sophomore effort out with a King Crimson cover, Murmur effectively accomplish two things: throwing out an homage to the musical giants of yesterday, as well as offering a steady reminder to fans that they're finding new influences in some perhaps unexpected places.

Stream it in full on their Bandcamp page.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 13.02.2014 by
Apothecary
There's this little thing I do, when gaseous molecules of ether dust release from my cranial cavity and coalesce into smoldering clouds of pterodactyl fractals. I call it "breathing."
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Unhealer - 13.02.2014 at 01:57  
Wow, this is why you are one of my favourite people here. I'm gonna tackle this right after I'm done with the MS awards.
Apothecary - 13.02.2014 at 02:11  
Written by Unhealer on 13.02.2014 at 01:57

Wow, this is why you are one of my favourite people here. I'm gonna tackle this right after I'm done with the MS awards.

Hehe thanks dude! And take your time, I'm sure it's not going anywhere
Monolithic - 13.02.2014 at 08:04  
Sounds clever and the quality is outstanding. Something between 8 and 9 would do justice just like the rating you gave on your delightful review.
!J.O.O.E.! - 13.02.2014 at 14:06  
As I already said to Che, I find this makes me feel somewhat like Dodecahedron do. Incredible technical skill but cold, detached songwriting. Certainly has more depth than Dodecahedron, but after half the album the songs and sound really began to grate on me.
Apothecary - 13.02.2014 at 15:58  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 13.02.2014 at 14:06

As I already said to Che, I find this makes me feel somewhat like Dodecahedron do. Incredible technical skill but cold, detached songwriting. Certainly has more depth than Dodecahedron, but after half the album the songs and sound really began to grate on me.

I've learned that you can be sometimes hard to please with the music you like
It's definitely technical, but like I said in the review, not overly so to the point of turning me off, as bands like Unexpect and Dream Theater typically do. The album also seems to have a natural flow from less proggy tracks to more proggy ones, to the point that by the end of the album, finishing with the King Crimson cover feels completely natural.
Rodney - 13.02.2014 at 18:56  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 13.02.2014 at 14:06

Incredible technical skill but cold, detached songwriting.

Sums up exactly how I feel about this album, it was impressive sure, but it failed to make me feel anything and left me entirely unengaged.
Apothecary - 14.02.2014 at 01:09  
Written by Rodney on 13.02.2014 at 18:56

It was impressive sure, but it failed to make me feel anything and left me entirely unengaged.

If it makes you feel impressed, then that's a way of the music engaging you
Rodney - 14.02.2014 at 04:34  
Written by Apothecary on 14.02.2014 at 01:09

Written by Rodney on 13.02.2014 at 18:56

It was impressive sure, but it failed to make me feel anything and left me entirely unengaged.

If it makes you feel impressed, then that's a way of the music engaging you

I guess in a sense. For me it's more that I can recognize what they're doing is technically impressive, but while I'm listening I don't feel impressed or like I should care that they're technical if that makes sense. I guess this album just isn't for me. Great review though.
Azhu - 14.02.2014 at 20:37  
Interesting album to say the least.
Apothecary - 14.02.2014 at 20:39  
Written by Rodney on 14.02.2014 at 04:34

For me it's more that I can recognize what they're doing is technically impressive, but while I'm listening I don't feel impressed or like I should care that they're technical if that makes sense

It does, I've noticed most people have a general point of tolerability with how technical they like their music to be before it gets irritating. This album doesn't really go beyond that point for me, but I can see why it might for some other people.
Erik M. - 14.02.2014 at 22:22  
Thanks for this review. Will definitely check this out.
Rulatore - 15.02.2014 at 17:59  
I listened to a track before and thought I wouldn't like it. After I read the review, I decided I should give it a try, can't say how much I regret about it.
theembryo - 15.02.2014 at 20:58  
Although the aforementioned mix of black metal and technical is not quite for me, the LTIA cover is great. As usual, Apothecary's review of instrumentation is spot on - I dig the hell out of the bass sound. Bravo!!
SmokyPeat - 19.02.2014 at 04:28  
"Technical" BM hehe... it was bound to happen one day. Technical DM has been existant for over a decade now. Might give this a listen at some point.
Apothecary - 19.02.2014 at 04:47  
Written by SmokyPeat on 19.02.2014 at 04:28

"Technical" BM hehe... it was bound to happen one day

Honestly I don't really see it becoming a big movement or anything, since like I said the two are usually seen as not a very good mix to begin with. Besides, for a genre to be technically-infused it has to lean towards technical tendencies to begin with. Black metal's usually focused on a very "less is more" type of delivery, often with very repetitive rhythm patterns, so I see "technical black metal" more as being prog or math metal infused with black metal elements than vice versa. This is really more of an extreme prog album than anything else. Their debut was definitely black metal, but I think you'd be a little hard-pressed to label this one as such.
Boxcar Willy - 19.02.2014 at 05:37  


So clustered and awfully mixed. The riffs are so quiet in the mix, and the ride's bell is piercing my ear drum. Definitely not a good one in my books.
Apothecary - 19.02.2014 at 06:58  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 19.02.2014 at 05:37

So clustered and awfully mixed. The riffs are so quiet in the mix, and the ride's bell is piercing my ear drum. Definitely not a good one in my books.

One man's trash...
Unhealer - 20.02.2014 at 01:02  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 19.02.2014 at 05:37

So clustered


Just curious, what do you mean by that?
Boxcar Willy - 20.02.2014 at 03:08  
Written by Unhealer on 20.02.2014 at 01:02

Just curious, what do you mean by that?

Meaning that it sounds like none of the instruments are following each other. There's no structure.
DrumminD21311 - 20.02.2014 at 08:35  
I LOVE this album! In fact, I registered just to respond to this review. The Bradd Nailor analogy was spot on. I was thinking of Bradd Nailor the entire time I was listening to this album. The drummer is extremely talented and has a similar style. I looked up his Facebook profile, and he majored in music performance in college. He really overshadows the rest of the band, although the rest of the band is still good. The band sounds very much like Mastodon, except better. The album blends together almost seamlessly except for a few weak parts towards the end. Tracks 2 and 3 are my favorites.
DrumminD21311 - 20.02.2014 at 08:37  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 20.02.2014 at 03:08

Written by Unhealer on 20.02.2014 at 01:02

Just curious, what do you mean by that?

Meaning that it sounds like none of the instruments are following each other. There's no structure.


Yeah, it's very jazz-like. That's how some jazz sounds, especially jazz from the 60's.
Unhealer - 20.02.2014 at 14:28  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 20.02.2014 at 03:08

Meaning that it sounds like none of the instruments are following each other. There's no structure.


Ah ok, for a moment there I thought you could be talking about actual music clustering, which I wouldn't be surprised to find in an album like this.
FelixtheMetalcat - 03.03.2014 at 23:45  
Written by DrumminD21311 on 20.02.2014 at 08:37

Written by Boxcar Willy on 20.02.2014 at 03:08

Written by Unhealer on 20.02.2014 at 01:02

Just curious, what do you mean by that?

Meaning that it sounds like none of the instruments are following each other. There's no structure.


Yeah, it's very jazz-like. That's how some jazz sounds, especially jazz from the 60's.



I would have to agree with that assessment after one full listen to this album. I didn't hate it but it was a chore getting thru the entire album in one sitting. Will continue to give this new band (to my ears) an honest listen. It's wierd enough that I liked quite a bit of it but it feels so disjointed at times it lost my full attention. In the past these are the types of albums that tend to grow on me & eventually I conclude they are quite good......sooooo we'll see.

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