Review Summary: The smell of wine and smoke dances in the air…
There’s some music that just fits the atmosphere of a still, dark night. Whether it be the low crack and glow of a fireside or the dim light of a single candle whose sole purpose is to light up a dark room. Layers of peeling paint and foreboding family portraits give that novel, vintage feel and a surreal atmosphere that can only be appreciated from sitting directly in that moment. Just picture it; an expansive room, the darkening red paint illuminated by embers in a fireplace. There’s portraits of indistinguishable nature littering the walls, a tall leather armchair, a gentleman’s silhouette holding a wide-rimmed glass with the embers glowing off the very glass between the fingers that hold it suspended, mid air. The mood is somber, haunting and yet... it’s relaxed and focused on the nothingness, on the hues of red, grey and black.
In many ways, the simplicity brings out an unforced, yet beautiful feeling. There’s a lot going on, yet nothing happening. And much like Muladona
these moments are better enjoyed simply, in the half dark, alone with a glass of humagne rouge in hand. For the musical hybrid that lives within the Rorcal moniker the ideas of sticking to a niche comes second to the band’s gravitational pull to artsy what-ever-the-fu
ck they want to do style. Particularly, the band’s fifth studio full-length takes inspiration of the novel in its namesake and the tentative horror of Eric Stener Carlson’s narrative into a world of sonic transformation, pausing only on the atmospherical ‘heaviness’ of Rorcal’s soundscape to insert Carlson’s spoken word.
The album’s opening piece, and original excerpt from the written source of its being enters through Carlson’s spoken word. The supernatural horror (which is largely the record’s motif) is forced directly into being isn’t that of a conventional wall of distorted guitars and anguished screams. Muladona
traps the listener, enveloping their being into this story. Rorcal take the nuances of Carlson’s bleak horror backdrop and twist every fibre of the evolving Rorcal sound into an audible landscape awash with post-blackened-sludge. It’s this hybridisation that brings each element into an anodyne and dense revision. “This Is How I Came to Associate Drowning with Tenderness” is an intelligent move from a band so willing to keep their listeners interested and guessing. “She Drained You of Your Innocence and You Poisoned Her With It” (yeah, these are some long titles) drops the album’s first unyielding display of typical Rorcal harshness. The band’s wall of sound is dense - bringing both lunging riffs and dystopian percussive weight. Rorcal’s more abrasive aesthetic is molten in design, liquid and forward moving, but it’s also cold and unfeeling, as they demonstrate the band’s mastery of modern genre-shifting, bleak blackened sludge.
The only flaw that comes with Muladona
’s focus is just how it may dissociate those who want to invest further in the subject matter. The long song titles or the disjointed horror chapters may be inherently interesting, but when one can’t relate to the veracity of Rorcal’s translation they’re often left standing exactly there: outside, but looking in on closed curtains. Thankfully, this is a pretty specific scenario, (and as much as it is a cop-out to say) it’s unlikely to affect the larger audience to which this album is intended or the breadth the Muladona
story would encompass in a written form.
“Carnations Were Not the Smell of Death. They Were the Smell of Desire” is a veritable smelter of moods and repetitive gradation, living in the realm of Carlson’s consistently horror-fed atmosphere. While Rorcal may place emphasis on the spoken samples of an author reading media, it’s the instrumental projections and the vocal force that bring one element to the next, and then bring them all together. Occasionally these elements overstep, overbearing and cancelling out some of the effect. Even tracks like “The Only Constant in This World Is Blackness of the Human Heart” offer relentless negative moods. Somehow Rorcal have prevented any premise of hope from entering their music, sticking instead to all manner of habitual sludge they’re known for.
story may not constantly translate as desired by Carlson when narrated by Rorcal’s abrasive soundscape, but enough of it is conveyed in a summary of moods. At times, Rorcal’s music transcends the themes it relies on, but mostly it reaffirms the relation between the two. Despite this, the album’s core sound is that runs through the group’s previous records, particularly that of Vilagvege
and 2016’s Creon
’s biggest selling point is the simple foundation of sounds where the record’s name-sake story builds. Rorcal didn’t find a story in the dying embers of that fireplace, nor is it the man drinking wine by himself. Muladona
’s narrative is written on the walls, illuminated by the flicker of a candle light.