Mesarthim Deliver on the Ominous Warning of Absence: The Great Filter Is Here
Back in August, our intrepid prog sleuth/space aficionado Joaquin Stick decoded the Morse code titles on spacy black metal band Mesarthim‘s terrific Absence (Papa Joe’s AOTY) to find an ominous warning. Stringing the song titles together and decrypting the code, Joaquin was able to produce the following text: “The Great Filter Approaches.” Now, at the end of 2016, The Great Filter is here.
As Joaquin denoted in his excellent article, the Great Filter is a term used in conjunction with the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox holds that if intelligent life other than humanity has ever (or will ever) exist in the universe, the probability that that civilization would reach us should be high enough to allow there to be evidence of some contact. The fact that no such visible evidence has ever been discovered seems to be an indication that no other intelligent life exists in the universe. The Great Filter is essentially a statistical test of the Fermi Paradox that utilizes the laws of relativity and other scientific principles to vastly reduce the number of potential sites within which life could in fact be sustained. To date, evidence of such sites is limited to 1, indicating that either no other intelligent life has ever existed or will ever exist or that the ultimate probability of survival for all intelligent life in the universe is zero.
Mesarthim seems to be urging us to embrace the grim truth that we will all succumb to heat death or any of the other millions of ways that life can be snuffed out in the vacuum of space.
Sonically, this translates into a much more aggressive approach on the new EP. Although the trace melodies and nebulous electronic effects of past Mesarthim releases are still present, the riffs that open the 21-minute song are much more dire. Tremolo leads drift in and out of cosmic dust to elevate the tension while other guitar flourishes, like interstellar feedback and gravitational divebombs, convey a sense of urgency about our fate. When the electronic elements do rear their heads in the middle of the record, they do so with crushing weight, as if the mysterious cosmic entity behind the project is trying to quantize a cosmic singularity into his music.
The Great Filter feels like the next logical step in Mesarthim’s evolution. Although the band has always walked the fine line between atmosphere and metal, the two elements seem even more perfectly poised in a taut drama of eternal significance. Just listen to the pulsing electronic segment that starts at about 11:20 to hear Mesarthim’s perfect orchestration of leading listeners through the 808 wormhole into a crushing, desperate scream and meteor shower of black metal riffs. The Great Filter sounds like the song Mesarthim has wanted to write all along, severe in its impartiality but beautiful in its majesty.
You can and should pick up The Great Filter for $1(+) right now on Bandcamp. If this album truly foretells the end of all things, hopefully it also portends a glorious rebirth on the other side of entropy, one in which spacey black metal reigns.