Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama Review

Japan is a country that’s seemingly balanced in terms of extremes. The country is equal parts honor-bound and traditional, yet also technologically advanced and creative, with bright lights and bustling cities sharing space with awe-inspiring temples and mountains. Hell, even their anime veers from cute and fluffy to violent and psychologically fucked up, sometimes within the same episode. But regardless of its duality, there’s an underlying majesty and mysticism emanating from the Land of the Rising Sun that causes many to flock to its call (like yours truly). Czech doom/death metal Et Moriemur also find inspiration to Japan’s alluring siren song, and on their fourth album, Tamashii No Yama (or “Mountain of Soul”), the band drew upon the country’s rich instrumentation, land, and mysticism to craft an album honoring its history and aura. How well do they honor it?

For starters, the band utilizes the shakuhachi, a traditional bamboo flute that channels thoughts of winds blowing through cherry blossom trees and quiet moments of reflection. However, it’s only heard on a few tracks, mostly on instrumental opener “Haneda,” where it drives the somber mood brought forth via piano melodies. Also, every song title on here is in Japanese, and they all seem to be named after real (“Otsugi,” “Nagoya”) or fictitious places (“Takamagahara”) in Japan. And… that’s literally it. That’s about as deep Et Moriemur goes with their inclusion of Japanese themes and influences. Perhaps the rest of the music will somehow pick up the slack of promised features.

Sadly, I’ve heard more exciting music while grocery shopping. When you mention atmospheric doom/death to me, several bands spring to mind. None of them were A Dead Poem-era Rotting Christ, arguably one of the most boring periods in the legendary Greek band’s history, and yet this is the well where Et Moriemur draws the most water from, but without the smooth flow from that album. All seven songs are meant to feel like one long piece of music, but the transitions within each song to prepare for the next don’t carry over well or, worse, they carry the same excitement and tension as watching old wallpaper slowly curling off a wall. Only on the first part of “Nagoya” does the band come close to anything even remotely exciting, and that’s five songs in, and even then, the band saw fit to switch off the tension and move to tamer, safer pastures.


Worse still, the production smothers much of the instrumentation. Half the time, I couldn’t tell the difference between what was an actual violin or cello, or a patch on keyboardist/vocalist Zdeněk Nevělík’s keyboard. The guitars have no bite to them, I can’t hear the bass at all, and the drums sound too compressed. Only the flute and Nevělík’s voice came out relatively unscathed. Speaking of Nevělík, his blackened screams got old fast, as his pitch and delivery reminded me of Tomas Lindberg, but with severe sinusitis. This is especially jarring on “Takamagahara,” Tamashii‘s closer that has no business being over thirteen minutes, where he’s yowling in what sounds like Japanese throughout its duration.

I tense up whenever anyone draws influence from a different culture to make an imprint artistically, and Tamashii No Yama is a case study as to why that is. I have no doubts that it was tastefully done, but the delivery left a lot to be desired, and when you craft a forty-minute album that feels like three hours have passed, that’s never a good thing. As it stands, this is the second-biggest Japanese-themed disappointment I’ve experienced this year, and don’t even get me started on the first.

 


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: etmoriemurdoom.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/etmoriemur
Releases Worldwide: April 8th, 2022

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