Review: Lunar Mantra – Genesis
Mix two parts ambient interlude, three parts atmospheric blackness, a dash of post-metal and plenty of layered dissonance to taste. Build robust fire from mossy, deciduous wood. Simmer 38 mins. Serve under the silver light of a full moon. Garnish with black robes and lit torches.
The wordless, instrumental album opener has always been a listening experience highlight for me, especially when done well. I love diving into an album that prides itself on creating an enveloping, wholly unique world of sound with which to frame its music. Sadly it seems to have fallen out of favor for many bands, perhaps because it’s been overused to the point of instant contempt when you see it on a track list. “Track one is two minutes long and says instrumental? Fuck that bro, let’s get on with it already *skip*.”
I was especially pleased to hear Glasgow’s Lunar Mantra utilize an instrumental opening to great effect on their debut mini album Genesis, perhaps acknowledging that their style of murky, cult-ish, black-ish metal benefits greatly from having the listening stage properly set. Take a listen to opening track “Ingress Thy Web Hast Spun” – the deep, thrumming drums, shadowed chants and all manner of small instruments providing spacial textures – this is the opening of a ritual to which we are privy. The second track “Stellar Catacombs” throws the flash powder into the bonfire and slams a mass of bloody, fast-paced kvlt riffings on either side of a mid-song atmospheric interlude, encouraging trancelike detachment. “Wealth Has Become the Shrines of Azazel” continues the ritual spaciousness before picking up into a mid-paced scattershot of dissonant and dueling guitar leads, churning through cold winds and fading light.
The nine-minute “Xanthotic Madness” is a particular highlight as the album’s emotional crescendo, mixing a soaring melody with burbling rhythms that simultaneously assist and challenge the mood of the track for its entire duration, lulling you into a sense of acceptance that the musical statement Lunar Mantra present here could very well go on forever and still not reveal its true nature. We close with a final instrumental, Ecstacy of Egression, that echoes the opening track’s ritual tones and provides an unsettling acknowledgement of entities lurking just outside your vision, waiting in silence for the next invocation, closing with only the faintest hint of melody.
Containing a tight 5 tracks, Genesis fits a surprising amount of content into its 38 minutes, smartly eliminating bulk or bloat and keeping its malevolent mission statement focused and uncluttered. The “low contrast” production is smooth and well-rounded (despite lacking a bit of low end in the bass and kicks), lending itself well to the hollow, chilled shadows of November that you’re bound to encounter on your commute, your run, or wherever else you listen to new music. The downside is that the tracks do tend to blend together a bit, even after several listens. While only having three proper tracks on this mini album helps that problem, in that you won’t listen to 4 to 6 songs that all sound similar, you can’t help wanting to hear them break free of that standard mid-paced blast beat that so many other bands with a similar post-metal influence use.
Stream Genesis below and check out Lunar Mantra‘s smoldering Glaswegian ritual for yourself.
3.5 Toilets ov Hell