Through psychotic and psychotropic blurs of heaving, blustering death metal comes this tightly-wound but mentally freed concept album from Meridion, whose name is the first of a hundred hints towards their cosmically dictated ancestral goal. The narrative is immediately bleak on paper where dissatisfaction with the ‘western’ world (the North, to them) that’d spurned the last untouched ancestors of man, finally reaches a breaking point. The lyrics eventually reference the Selk’nam people of the furthest southern tip of Patagonia, in today’s Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina. This aboriginal population was one of three benevolent tribes of indigenous peoples and the story of their genocide is completely horrific not only because of how it was carried out through massacres and bounty hunting, or that it happened to society of peaceful, friendly peoples… But that it was for the sake of cattle farming and gold mining; They’d call it a ‘utilitarian genocide’ in hindsight and it was incredibly thorough. ‘Rise From the South’ posits that a great cult of revenge has persisted in the hundred years since this genocide was carried out. Talk of black suns and whirling storms comes from Selk’nam mythology that was dictated by the four cardinal directions representing four infinite stretches of sky that each correlate with a different type of weather. These were not ‘Gods’ but eternal ancestors who could empower the shaman of the people enabling them to control the weather. This sophisticated view of ancestry begins to play a large role in the imagery explored in Meridion‘s debut album. Even if I might’ve gotten some of the details wrong with my own general research, there is such incredible depth that creates the foundation for the esoteric and somewhat experimental listening experience of ‘Rise From the South’.
Meridion are a death metal band though a sublimely atmospheric and often dissonant one that tends towards chaotic breaks and builds in their instrumentation. Makeshift, traditional and classical instruments create creeping and confounding atmospherics amidst some use of synth and vocal effects for each performance where gnarled and fragmented guitar riffs eventually spiral into either brutal or performative displays. It is an album of movement, of narrative, and of darkening skies as it proceeds to conjure this vengeance and transcendence at once. If you are familiar with experimental Chilean death metal then you should already know at least once of the band member’s other projects past-and-present though the most related are Trimegisto and Dominus Xul where the guitar work of Claudio Salinas is legendary among the Chilean death metal underground; At his side is Draconis (José Luis Gonzales) of Godagainst and Melektaus. along with longtime collaborators Chaotic Portal Plague and BoneFucker. Well, each has a nickname for this project but the rhythm section are just as vital members from the aforementioned bands. The point here is that Meridion come as well worn professionals who are fantastically capable in their creation of this somewhat avant-garde death metal music. Ancient goals and forward thinking expression on very obscure record labels couldn’t be a more perfect storm of underground death metal magia.
Bear with me, though, if you are a riff-obsessed lunatic who’d toss aside anything unorthodox because this isn’t a ‘riff’ album so much as an atmospheric experience guided by rituals that cement themselves within their purpose. Growling, crawling, and steeping in gorgeous psychedelic resonance doesn’t leave any room for regular-assed song structures. Thus, it is a place to sit and be guided within and a meditation upon atrocity and the resilience of humanity in spite of our own cruelty. The spiritual defiance explored is felt and palpably resolved into the aethyr with “Invocation of the Subterranean Sun”. This is what’d separate the experience from the technical or performative twists of Mitochondrian or Portal and steer it towards the more intentioned style of Cenotafio or Altarage; Think of Temple Nightside but on LSD and incanting ancient spirits. In this sense it is hard to make a truly close comparison because while the compositions of ‘Rise From the South’ are of a certain ilk they are very specifically from Meridion‘s hands, a unique experience that is built of material only these long active professionals could bring.
‘Rise From the South’ was originally self-released as a digital download in 2018 and given a broader release (within Chile) in October of that same year. As is the case with the majority of independent or underground releases from the region it didn’t receive very broad notice or wider release until later. None of this is indicative of the quality within and the trouble with signal boosting a curious and somewhat experimental death metal album like this is that the trendy fandom for its style rarely rewinds back in time for even month old releases. The official CD release of Meridion‘s debut outside of Chile is cause for celebration all the same and I’d highly recommend picking it up. For preview I’d recommend starting with the introduction of “Austral Strength” and then going straight to my personal favorite track, the peak eclipse of “Invocation of the Subterranean Sun”.
The language of supreme invocation. 4.0/5.0
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