Review Summary: There is no God, there is only us...
After two albums of solid but frankly one note sludge metal, Lord Dying’s third full-length dramatically broadens their sonic palette. The Portland group’s gruffer tendencies are still present but have been intercepted by progressive influences that seem to be taking more cues from Nevermore than High on Fire. There’s a massive influx of clean vocals and melodic guitar segments that allow the structures to work through a more dynamic spectrum.
This prog takeover may not lead to any elaborate shred-fests or unorthodox time signatures, but the band members have certainly upped their skills. The guitar work is easily the album’s most standout feature as the leads are gorgeously fluid, and the rhythms manage to keep their gritty weight despite the polish. The vocal shift is also quite welcome; guitarist/vocalist Erik Olson isn’t a powerhouse by any means, but his delivery mixes the clean and harsh elements with plenty of pathos. The rhythm section isn’t quite as flashy in comparison, but their presence makes for solid but flexible structuring.
While “Envy the End” starts things off on a driving note, the album’s songwriting takes a rather loose approach. There is a wandering character felt throughout as a majority of songs are driven by extended instrumental segments and meditative buildups. This could potentially make for a bunch of pointless navel gazing, but tracks flow smoothly into one another and the overarching themes of existentialism and death contemplations ensure a sense of direction.
And with that, there are plenty of distinct tracks on display. The seamless transition from “Nearing the End of the Curling Worm” to “The End of Experience” is an early highlight. The two-minute tracks manage to put in some great variety as “Exploring Inward” builds into the Mastodon-esque “Severed Forever” while “Even the Darkness Went Away” has an almost campfire folk presence. But nothing tops “Saying Goodbye to Physical Form,” an emotional instrument that closes things out in gorgeously uplifting fashion.
Mysterium Tremendum is a fantastic sludge-prog album in its own right and a massive step up in Lord Dying’s trajectory. The band is near unrecognizable compared to their straightforward style on albums past, injecting a slew of new melodic elements but possessing the talent to use them tastefully. There is certainly room for fine-tuning the vocals and the free-flow songwriting method may take some getting used to, but Lord Dying is living up to their potential and then some.
“Envy the End”
“Even the Darkness Went Away”
“Saying Goodbye to Physical Form”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com