Immersing your senses in Karellen’s debut long player Mersum is a journey through doom and prog styles that the three-piece from Manchester will undoubtedly be proud of. The album starts off with the progressive high-water mark The Transmutation that wouldn’t be out of place on a King Buffalo album. The clean guitars and creeping build finally drops into the heavier sound which is one of the most gratifying moments on the album.
The track continues to deliver as it switches back and forth between heavier and cleaner tones with rewarding vocals from the band. Great song writing, production and the outro leaves me wanting the track to continue for another seven mins. On first listen you might be thinking more of the same is on the way but the album changes gear with a trilogy of doom-laden tracks that the Orcs in Mordor would crank at high volumes.
There’s a particularly unnerving break in Ma’a Salama with its eerie minor meandering that raises the tension of the journey. Producer Chris Taylor’s decision to use a Maxon 8080D with a JCM800 gives Ben Nicholson’s guitar tone a heavy distorted feel, without losing any clarity, while the low end still finds a way to sit precisely underneath the down tuned guitars.
The song Waiting has sat on Moz’s (drummer) shelf for several years until it finally found its way onto Mersum. The jump in styles shows the band’s versatility by tackling the more upbeat 6/5 time signature and inviting Moz’ ex bandmate Kurt Torevell as guest vocalist. Easily the most distinguishable song on the album.
Karellen’s take on doom, prog and song dynamics deliver an interesting and rewarding album…
The album cover, with its two-tone background invokes the ride through the titular final track with its doom beginnings giving way to a long swirling effect laden second half of the song. Imagining the eye tree blinking at you as you make your way through this part of the album is akin to being in Pan’s Labyrinth. I would have loved some additional melodies through this section to propel this hallucination even deeper.
Karellen’s take on doom, prog and song dynamics deliver an interesting and rewarding album to the listener with each play. Each of the songs have their own identity and don’t rely on a formulaic approach. This is particularly evident by the scattered use of vocals throughout, providing memorable moments when deployed. I would love to hear more in future recordings.
The band isn’t scared of switching styles so it’s hard to predict what album number two might sound like. The upcoming September gig supporting Green Lung with this slab of music to promote will undoubtedly deliver a few new fans to the lads from Manchester.
Scribed by: Maxx