MEGALITH LEVITATION – Void Psalms (2021)REVIEW

Entheogen assisted bolts from the servitor’s recurve arc toward their target easy as the low-slung bends of the Ural mountains as we land upon this second burst of near-death wavelength from Chelyabinsk, Russia-based psychedelic doom metal trio Megalith Levitation. From these ‘Void Psalms‘ we begin extrapolating visions entirely concerned with the revelations of the Descartes’ demon brain in vat, four apocalyptic lysergic modules intent upon liberation in the wake of profound cosmodicy. We are treated with a fresh layer of silvered skin by this second great act of bludgeoning mantra, a feat which persists as a lightly profound experience solely for the trio’s droning knack for directive headspace. Is it enough to have iterated with a solid follow-up aiming to amp up the psychedelia and heaviness abounding their prior release, or, will this second time around amount to one very extreme feedback loop from beyond?

Formed in 2014 and jamming their surreal thunder-fuzzed doom metal sound to the point of entrancement ever since, we wouldn’t get first contact from this remotely set trio until their debut full-length ‘Acid Doom Rites‘ (2019), an album which I’d enjoyed but ultimately found lacking in riffs as I discovered it several months beyond its initial release. Chances are you’ve chosen to investigate their work for the same reason I did, the striking artwork from GodLikeIkons aka Alexsey Sivitsky is eye-catching as Hell and their logo design is intensely stylized, but there wasn’t an appropriate disclaimer for exactly what the music is and how they’d generated it. Most of Megalith Levitation‘s songs are droning pieces of syncopation which may be composed to some degree but are developed from jam sessions into long-form pieces that are largely directed by a specific vibe and feeling in mind.

In English, eh? Psychedelic doom metal atmosphere which matches the arcane atmospheric dirges of occult blues from Saturnalia Temple, the sludge/stoner crisped of classic Electric Wizard, and some of the more brutal-edged tonal maul of Horse Latitudes and Coltsblood. An album like ‘To the Other‘ provides a good reference for how Megalith Levitation have shaped the experience, imposing traditional doom metal riffs set to nuke-heavy yet slow-churning tides of fuzz which provide plenty of space for riff progressions and leads to offer some intimacy beyond big chunking guitar thud. The spaced nature of earlier Obelyskkh, the persistent extreme doom resonance and walking pace of Heavydeath, and certainly a bit of the monastic, mantra-driven side of psychedelic doom metal (Om, Zaum, etc.) in general could all be used to describe the finer points of Megalith Levitation past and present. The “present” as it were, still includes their split with Dekonstruktor from last summer in terms of my own mental strata, and I’d encourage anyone not fully convinced by ‘Acid Doom Rites’ to sit with that split and consider its finer points. It’d been the release to convince me this band is something special beyond their fine presentation and art curation.

Megalith Levitation are presenting us with a guitar effects warmed hall of ritualistic doom metal trance with the hopes that the listener will listen for as long as it takes to enter a state, or experience a sensation, similar to that which they experience when performing it. By synesthesia, persistence, or recreational drug use you will likely get there thanks to the extended nature of each piece. The three major sessions here range from 13-20 minutes and a shorter final piece makes a most profound statement to end the hour. Sounds exhausting and, per the psychedelic doom metal sub-genre, full of slow-building filler, eh? Actually the first major point of differentiation I’d suggest most listeners should glom onto (and experience for themselves) is the lack of wasted time within Megalith Levitation‘s approach as a general sense of impatience guides their hand in reaching the aforementioned state of trance. Though I wouldn’t describe a single moment of ‘Void Psalms’ as anxietous, there is a sense of being pushed towards gratification rather than easing into it. As such, the experience is awash with lumbering slow-jammed guitar work from the moment “Phantasmagoric Journey” begins and the pace, though decidedly slow, is almost entirely consistent when set within deepest immersion. Ritualistic stoner music for cerebral extremophiles, more-or-less.

The aforementioned opening piece tempers the wild hand of the material found on the split with Dekonstruktor, engaging a more controlled chanted/hymnal vocal style leaving much of the song to slowly bake between layers of ‘Forest of Equilibrium’ coldness and the resonance of modern mantra-paced doom, opening up the dynamic of the song with a crater-pounding riff in approach of the ninth minute. Normally this type of song might feel like a long wait for the action at the end but the more times I’d ripped through the running order the sooner ‘Void Psalms’ had conjured its own space-time continuum before me, an experience not unlike ‘III: So Long Suckers’ in terms of the greater shape revealing itself quite slowly over several listens. Each of the two pieces beyond have at least one similar shift in pace, “Datura Revelations / Lysergic Phantoms” eventually dissolving into a Neurosis-esque shamble n’ wail, and “Temple of Silence / Pillars of Creation” making a more rough transition into its second half with a jammed psychedelic doom metal rise. Not all of this works in a consistently effective way, especially the “Pillars of Creation” section of the third piece, but ultimately all of it makes sense in terms of the larger “jam” which the album presents up to this point.

A face appears upon the wall, emotionless. “Last Vision” is a relatively simple song, even considering the ultimate minimalism expressed elsewhere on the album and the structure of it is no more remarkable yet it stands out in mind for the striking implementation of baritone saxophone from guest musician Anton Maximov. This is a double-edged sword for the sake of providing a brilliant standout moment as the album whirls to profound closure while also highlighting what the rest of the album lacks — Color. Psychedelia should absolutely take the listener outside of the ‘self’ and move them somewhere, anywhere, but the cold dark place the restless dirge of ‘Void Psalms’ presents becomes a vast dimly lit world of poisonous wonder for the few moments the saxophone riffs along with Megalith Levitation. I won’t suggest the trio need this type of accoutrement and feature to be good, their work is yet deeply entertaining, but I will say that I’d instantly hoped for this sort of idea to be the path forward for their craft.

As a meditative and colossally heavy psychedelic doom/sludge metal trance-whirler ‘Void Psalms’ is yet one of the better experiences of its kind on offer this year, not only for the sake of its raw and massively stylized sound but for the organic realization of Megalith Levitation‘s own personal connection to doom metal music. Beyond notable conveyance of surreal ritual affect they’ve succeeded in fending off the monotony of the ritual itself, a feat which surely deserves a high recommendation on my part.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
Info:
ARTIST:MEGALITH LEVITATION
TITLE:Void Psalms
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Aesthetic Death [CD],
Pestis Insaniae Records [Cassette]
RELEASE DATE:October 1st, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Psychedelic Doom/Sludge Metal

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