Track Premiere: Moribund Mantras – “Shore of Knowledge”


Always near the end but never quite there.

Whatever else it might mean, Moribund Mantras, in its pluralization, suggests a continuation, an ongoing effort, a more. These are chants, incantations, calls to prayer that we wail together in the stultifying yet also maybe electrifying moments of dying off, passing away, of living with, in, and towards the end. But if we are moribund—and, make no mistake, we always already are, born astride the grave as we all are—then we are always incanting in the ever-nearing face of death. It is not a state of extinction but rather the state of going extinct under which we labour and thus accept these hymns.

For 13 years, German band Moribund Mantras has blended epic doom, black metal, and post-metal into something from which you can’t precisely pick out the disparate parts. This isn’t a mixing but a melding together, a hypnotic layering of lachrymose lamentations that maybe should call to mind so many bands but, alas, keeps easy referents at arm’s length. 2020’s immersive and heady Golden Void will confound listeners in any attempt to snatch out of its dire atmosphere a direct nod to any one band. It’s a beautiful thing, to be so thick with the history of multiple genres and assemble them in such a complementary way. The crackle and harshness of Moribund Mantras’ mid-paced black metal creates rough, jagged edges around its earnest and stomping doom while post-metal’s contours of interweaving waves of euphoria and despair buoy the whole affair.

Moribund Mantras offer up their latest “varied, tense, and highly expressive… sonic endeavours” via Argento Records on April 14. …of Fathomless Depths is a solemn affair with “chilling mammoth riffs carrying the weight of the world” that also boasts a delicate balancing of “vicious heaviness” and “heart-stirring bursts of melody.” For all its solemnity, though, for all its sinking and for all its darkness, there are still moments of floating, moments of shimmering. “When the night is darkest,” writes French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman in Survival of the Fireflies, “we’re capable of seizing on the faintest glimmer, and even the expiration of light remains visible to us in its trace, however tenuous.” Remember: in the expiration, in the on-going process of expiring, there we are, faintly glowing for others to see in the night.

Today, we’re thrilled to premiere “Shore of Knowledge,” the second single and concluding track from …of Fathomless Depths. To be sure, this is the EP’s most propulsive track, the song with the most black-metal leanings, and we need all that force and fury for what the band names our “eternal pursuit for enlightenment” in the perpetual darkness of living at the end. If it feels, after this track right now and when the EP releases on April 14, that the band has harnessed something truly personal, this is no accident. As the band explains,

…of Fathomless Depths marks the first time that the band was completely in control of the recording and production process. We had the opportunity to work at our own pace and engineer the sound of the songs to be as close as possible to our own vision. This has led to an interplay between the songwriting and the recording process, allowing them to engage with each other, refining the initial ideas. ‘Shore of Knowledge’ is the best representation on this EP of the evolved songwriting that was possible due to our new approach to recording. It successfully combines the various influences of the band and showcases our exploration of the range of different dynamics. We hope that the listener will follow us on our aural journey into the deep, dark spheres of the fathomless depths.”

While Moribund Mantras has never been a band suffering under the agonies of the Procrustean bed, they’re clearly operating on …of Fathomless Depths with full artistic integrity and aesthetic impunity. This is not a band worried about losing limbs or being stretched too thin to fit a mold. They are unshackled and unfettered, and all the better for us.

We do not sing mantras at the end because all is dark, because darkness is all there is. We do it because we might create just enough space, just enough light, to reach one another. If we were to keep silent and choke off our chants, we would simply admit defeat. “To postulate this is, in fact,” writes Didi-Huberman, “to give credence to what the machine tries to make us believe. To see nothing but the black night… To act defeated: to be convinced that the machine is finishing its work without rest or resistance. To see only the whole. And thus not to see the space—though it may be interstitial, intermittent, nomadic, improbably located—of openings, of possibilities, of flashes, in spite of all.”

So, in spite of all, Moribund Mantras offers up these 5 new mantras. Chant along with them and with each other to become the blinking and unblinkered specks of shimmering light in a darkness that often feels but ultimately is not totalized.

Pre-orders available now on Argento Records.
To take a deep dive into their catalogue,
visit Moribund Mantras’ own bandcamp.
Be fireflies.

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