If you look back through the top ten archives of the site, you’ll find it’s not uncommon to see a band on a list that was never reviewed by us. If a promo doesn’t come through our hand-hewn bone doors, it doesn’t get reviewed. But, even with that rule in place, there’re just too many promos arriving on a weekly basis to catch them all. What is uncommon is an album that not only landed on a couple lists but also took the top spot. So, what does this mean for Mistur‘s In Memoriam? Well… it means this sum bitch needs a review.
Since rediscovering In Memoriam toward the end of last year, we’ve been inseparable. I’ve sat in the snow with it, graded exams with it, and even fell asleep with it. It’s wooed me and terrified me, loved me and toyed with me. And it did it with a combination of atmospheric synths, mesmerizing pianos, clean vocals, harsh vox, and a score of headbangeable riffs. Aggression at war with beauty, joy battling melancholy. Toss in that nostalgic Windir vibe with Øien and Bakketeig’s dynamic vocals and you get not only Grier‘s Record o’ the Year, but one of the finest examples of black/Viking/melodeath bliss.
What the band has done since their debut, Attende, is hone seven years of silence into something that resembles a Grier sentence—lengthy and wordy, yet concise and magnificently structured. OK, so the comparison to my writing isn’t all correct (just the latter part is), but I think you get the point. “Firstborn Son” and “The Sight” are packed to the gills with everything you could ever want. Yet, they have the same conciseness as a five-minute ditty. They allow ample time for the mood to settle in but never allow it to become stale. The riffs change, the mood becomes more aggressive, and the listener’s neck comes under great strain. Every track undergoes massive twists and turns, each supplying unique riffage, synths, and vocals; thereby, creating a well-rounded record.
Furthermore, In Memoriam uses the keys and clean vocals with greater effect than it did on Attende. Songs like “Downfall,” “Matriarch’s Lament,” and “Tears of Remembrance” would fall to the wayside if it wasn’t for those impressive keys. Along with that, “Downfall” and “Tears of Remembrance” bookend the album with more perfection than the Christian deity. And between the synths of “Downfall” and the gorgeous, melodic piano segments of “Tears of Remembrance” lies a washboard road carved out by the crushing treads of “Firstborn Son” and “The Sight” and the funeral processions of “Distant Peaks” and “Matriarch’s Lament.” These six tracks work together as the perfect team—neither stealing each other’s thunder or tanking a play. For me, In Memoriam is without filler. And, though I love “The Sight” the best, the record is impossible to appreciate unless listened to from beginning to end.
If this were a full review of In Memoriam, I’d be more than a little tempted to give it a 4.5/5.0. Which is saying something, considering I have yet to give a record a score of 4.5/5.0. I know 2016 has come and gone, but if you still haven’t checked this out, you should. Don’t worry, you can trust me. After all, I am a doctor.
Tracks to Check Out: “Downfall,” “Firstborn Son,” “The Sight,” and “Tears of Remembrance”