Ah the old ‘acoustic intro followed by massive doom riff’ trick. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Mycelium are well aware of this but are also smart enough to know that for it to work, the riff in question has to be a big ol’ mean one. So thankfully when A Mutiplicity Of Hidden Worlds successfully pulls off this one-two punch with the segue of unplugged jangler Fertile Apprehension then into the opening Confessor-esque riff of Guiding Flames Of Intention, it bodes well for what’s to come.
Instrumental metal – particularly of the more extreme kind – is still a relative rarity, so Mycelium, while not in entirely unknown territory, are working in a very narrow field. Also given the background of personal and ecological themes mentioned by the artist (S.J. Bloxsidge), there will always be somewhat of a question about how these themes can be adequately expressed by music alone – I’m still not sure after several listens that they’re fully expressed musically and titles such as A Retreat Into Reflective Seclusion and The Murk Of Juvenile Doubt probably put across those themes more directly than the actual music.
But what Mycelium do manage is to keep things interesting and flowing throughout. While this is firmly in the doom camp, it doesn’t resort to either full on drone on one hand, or monotony on the other. Riffs follow each other in a progression that keeps the ears alert. There’s no point where you think ‘I wish there were some vocals’ which is a triumph of sorts.
Mycelium seems to be operating with the most primitive technology available, the ‘guitar straight into the machine’ fuzz tone being reminiscent of the kind of Tascam epics that were being fired into the realms of the tape trading underground 30 years ago. It may be this particular writer’s age showing here, but that basic and raw recording quality has a great deal of charm adding to the overall feel and effect.
While this is firmly in the doom camp, it doesn’t resort to either full on drone on one hand, or monotony on the other. Riffs follow each other in a progression that keeps the ears alert…
Some care has been taken here to ensure that moods change as the album progresses. Along with the intro, the aforementioned A Retreat Into Reflective Seclusion and A Cyclic Procession Of Destructive Creation are all acoustic pieces, and are integral to the album as a whole, rather than just as a temporary reprieve from the heft. Indeed this is very much an album to listen to from start to finish, rather than pulling individual tracks from, largely because of how these quieter pieces work placed next to the strident early Cathedral riffing of the heavier tracks.
A Mutiplicity Of Hidden Worlds also has plenty atmosphere in spite of its primitive heart. Closer The Indivisible And Interconnected marries the big riffs to an elongated passage of psychedelia, that’s hinted at in earlier tracks, as a distant soloing guitar and a Sabbathian bassline step back to allow some lovely cinematic synths and ambient sounds to create some space in the dense body of the song.
Further listens reveal what seem to be nature sounds and hints of soundscape to pop in and out of different tracks, but it’s on this closer it really all comes together.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes