SPECTRUM MORTIS – Bit Meseri-The Incantation (2022)REVIEW

Tributes to the knowledge of the water, to the all-seeing eye, and to the solar calf in defense of ailing lifeforce are set in motion before our desperate prayers to Nusku begin. — Confinement is the answer when afflicted with the mortal illnesses associated with relentless demonic attack, to submit to the incantations and scrawling of the exorcist’s prescription is to place trust in the ‘Gods’ for the sake of survival, and as if the unease weren’t great enough it’d be unthinkable to suggest that he who speaks between realms may very well be driving deeper the thorns of darkness, or, even acting to satiate the demons first and foremost. Ancient rites, ceremonies of relief-bringing commune with the wishes of the spirits are weaponized in the hands of ritualistic occult death/doom metal extremists Spectrum Mortis whom prick the ear with passageways to unthinkable darkness on this, their debut full-length. ‘Bit Meseri – The Incantation‘ offers necromantic spells through the snaking tongue of auld Sumerian beliefs, transcendental audience with vengeful and unpredictable forces which churn the history of man in callous, unperturbed ways. It is only through long-developed mastery that the Madrid, Spain-based quartet begin to achieve all-embracing ceremonial captivation in conjure.

Spectrum Mortis formed in ~2015 intending to ritualize their occult-obssessed vision into hypnotic bestial black/death metal with a martial yet cavernous feeling, at least that’d be the best way to describe their debut mLP (‘Blasphemare Nomen Eius‘, 2016) before its follow-up (‘Kadosh‘, 2018) would land more clearly in the occult death/doom metal realm, finding the first true seed of their ever-changing sound. From my point of view it’d been a first of several highlights within a fantastic span of releases from BlackSeed Productions that year, and a natural fit for my taste in the spiritual side of morbid death/doom metal a la Necros Christos circa ‘Doom of the Occult‘ and the still vital ‘Odori Sepulcrorum‘ from Grave Miasma but with a sort of Hellenic black metal influenced touch of doom included, a Necromantia-esque lurk. At the time I believe I’d suggested “Spectrum Mortis are on the cusp of fully differentiating themselves from comparable groups as they show some great mastery of atmosphere and riff alike on this second EP. Whether they are already masters or a ‘band to watch’ might depend on your love of ritualistic occult extreme metal ethos and death/doom riffs“. Extended pieces, short instrumental interludes performed on traditional instruments and a fearsome vocalist left a deep impression upon me yet it wasn’t until Spectrum Mortissplit with Hacavitz that I’d been sure they’d be able to carry their sound beyond underground sub-genre appeal. Themes and production values each became important tides of change over the course of the last few years, at least by my measure.

In combining and upholding the realms of atmosphere and composition explored on their previous two mini-LPs Spectrum Mortis aim for a complete, well-rounded full-length statement to start. The first stage of realization in this case is distinction and cohesion. ‘Bit Meseri -The Incantation-‘ features an almost funeral death/doom metal sized atmosphere, a resoundingly incensed and smoke-blurred expiration (see: “El Sol de Eridu”) amplified by the chasmic reach of the vocal and rhythm guitar levels. The drumming creates an unreal anchor for these rituals of confinement, rites and practices for protection from great evils, and wards against Death’s sickness. Yes, there will be mid-paced double bass drummed cavernous rolls, some light feature of keyboards and even a bit of arranged bouzouki, though we should not consider ‘funeral doom’ as their major goal since this music is crafted around the riff and doesn’t feature laboriously slow rhythms as a point of focus. One could very vaguely access the atmospheric wiles of Evoken‘s ‘Embrace the Emptiness‘, or perhaps Swallowed (Finland) and translate that spacious atmospheric curse to the brutal intensity of Sonne Adam‘s ‘Transformation‘ under similarly dark shroud when seeking analogues to what Spectrum Mortis have become.

Endowed with broad understanding. — We can sum the idea and effect of “blackened” death metal’s cryptic evolutionary traits and coldly possessed doom metal rhythms combined well enough within the confines of sub-genre standardization yet quantifying ambitious growth and a goal of perpetually manifested change cannot so easily be explained in terms of face valuation. If we can step outside the haze and hex of what Spectrum Mortis do so well, atmosphere and riff in perpetually satisfying balance of motion, what is slightly shrouded by these surrealistic feats is some strong artistic concern with the song in ritual setting, the hypnotic yet enriching type of extreme metal piece rooted in statement rather than abstraction. It is a long way to go to suggest there are memorable moments faceted into each song on ‘Bit Meseri -The Incantation-‘ but I’d found it the best way to suggest this album is a grower, a majestic sort of extreme doom metal album which sinks into mind with ease despite how aggressive its fire-flooded mechanisms become.

To start, the needle in ear pierces by way of patient clean strummed waltz and warming leads, at least four major layers of differently toned guitars presenting the trailing cyclic lead which dominates the further points of respite on the otherwise barreling “Utu-Abzu”, a piece which hooks the ear just as the best of nowadays Finnish death/doom might despite the chasmic maw of the vocals taking us elsewhere. The guitar tone commands the scene as much as it paints the cracks and corners of the recordings high-ceiling crypt walls and eternal pitfalls, lumbering out a guitar progression which certainly wouldn’t alienate a Hooded Menace fan, or nearby. The captivating conversational meander which threads its way through ‘Bit Meseri -The Incantation-‘ continues with “U-Anne-Dugga” and here we see the halls of their vision erupt into magisterial command, no longer a crumpled crypt sojourn but a grand panoramic scene. The peak of this original thread, the ‘Quietus‘-esque chord progressions and yearning stride of the title track, is where I’d felt Spectrum Mortis stepped fully into their own realm, something unheard of elsewhere which balances ominous and surreal spectacle with weighty, physical death metal whorls. The intense build-up of Side A only impressed more with each spin of the record.

As the second half of the full listen approaches the haze intensifies and the descent begins, this portion of the album meandered more within simpler guitar progressions, relishes in atmospheric thickness and serves more evenly spaced points of aggression. “Uanna”, a piece centering around the same-named bringer of wisdom to mankind, stammers on a bit within its immediate plunge and as such felt more aligned with the Grave Miasma-fed spectrum of atmospheric death metal, eventually adding keyboards and swelling leads on “An-Enlilda” as the ritual continued. This’d left quite a lot on the shoulders of the final song proper and I’d had to concede that it was just alright, a fitting enough endpoint for an album a bit front-loaded with spectacle and otherwise dominated by pieces which roar and boil on their own terms. The dynamic conjure of the album’s introduction only appears to promise more than a damning ceremony as it builds but the end result is yet an impressive debut album from a band who’ve reached this milestone with great purpose -and- execution, reading as a professional yet admirably stylized death metal band.

There are fine touches all over ‘Bit Meseri -The Incantation-‘ in terms of presentation, from the excellent Khaos Diktator cover artwork to the intro/outro bookending bouzouki arrangements by way of Julkarn (Graveyard, Of Darkness) yet I wouldn’t consider this record the ‘usual’ sort of travel through the headspace of sinister Sumerian antiquity. Spectrum Mortis have succeed in entertaining with death metal well in service to their fantastical occult interests, though they fully go for this ancient spiritual theme with some admirable amount of study in mind, lending a darkly spiritual and mysteriously twisted bent upon what could otherwise read as historic interest given dramatism. It goes places, listens well on repeat, and mystifies with high production values and immersive scenes set… all while still feeding the ‘heavy metal mind’ riffs and memorable leads to sew together the experience in mind. An excellent debut, setting the bar for future insight and productions encouragingly high. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Bit Meseri – The Incantation
LABEL(S):Listenable Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

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