Review: MiR – Season Unknown
I initially planned to start this review with the snazzy little misdirect of asking you what you would expect a band featuring members of psychedelic doom troupe Spaceslug and literal sludge heavyweights 71TonMan to sound like, hoping to make you go all Tim Allen upon the reveal that no, it’s not uber-heavy, spaced-out sloner studge, but rather some highly emotive black metal. I eventually decided against this (except I guess I just kinda did it), not least because juxtaposing genres that supposedly don’t go together purely for the befuddlement of the listener (or indeed the reader) is one of the laziest tropes in metal. MiR‘s Season Unknown is a good enough record that it deserves a more inspired approach. After 120 words, you’ve probably started to suspect I don’t have one, and you’re entirely correct, so let’s just jump right in.
It’s not like MiR are wasting much time either, after all. About 10 seconds in, opener “Altar of Liar” pelts us with a blast beat; after 25, the vocals are let loose with an acerbic intensity that seems intent to inscribe its rage and agony on our eardrums with an awl. I can’t tell if some kind of distortion is at play, but there’s a slightly blown-out quality to the high-powered screams that makes them sound that much more urgent. It’s a captivating performance that, coupled with the song’s overall momentum, quickly had me sitting up straight and paying attention upon my first listen.
It quickly turned out that I was not so attentive after all. Floored by the brutal aggression of the first track, I completely missed the signposts of the album’s overall mood that are woven into its slower sections. The plodding melancholy of second track “In the Stones” therefore came as a bit of a surprise, but my phobia of Predominantly Slow Music was kept at bay by the high-tempo isles strewn throughout the song, which make it almost an inverse of the structure of “Altar of Liar.” It also helps that the vocals don’t let up even a little bit and turn out to work equally well over slow parts, where they connotate exhausted despair instead of white-hot rage. Either way, we’re hearing someone at the end of their tether, and it’s a bit concerning how relatable the emotion feels.
So MiR play fast sometimes and also slow, and this provides sufficient building blocks to write songs that can create an interesting tension, like “Moonlight Fever,” which largely refuses to clearly fall fully on either the angry or sad side and instead rides a fine line in-between. There’s a third element, however, which keen ears may have picked up on already, but which didn’t fully reveal itself to me until the penultimate part in “Sum of All Mourn,” where the song opens up into a remarkably relaxed, spacious section with effect-ladeb guitars ringing through it. While this is by no means the first occasion where a wah-wah pedal is used, I positively needed to be clobbered over the head with it in order to notice this particular vein running through MiR’s sound.
This vein is mined particularly in the second half of the album, where the band really put the “post” into their post black metal. “Ashen” thrives on more of that pensive atmosphere, while “Yesterday Rotten” even introduces cleans for a moment. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say they ever delve into full-on psychedelic atmosphere or sludge elements, but traces of MiR’s constituent DNA seem to run all throughout the album—yet more reason why my original opening would not have done this album justice. Everyone involved truly brings their experience to bear, resulting in a varied and immensely well-crafted album. All I’d hope for in the future is that they give even more space to the non-black metal elements and, awesome as the vocals are, perhaps introduce a second style for more contrast. As it stands, this is a comfortable
3.5 out ov 5 Flaming Toilets
Season Unknown was released independently back in March. Digital and physical copies are available here.