August 4, 2013

Theoria - Mantra

Guest review by BreadGod from Servile Insurrection

The Servile Insurrection blog just reached 100,000 views. BreadGod digs deep into the metal underground. Obscure demos by long defunct bands are trashed on a regular basis, but there are also great finds in the Bandcamp (and ReverbNation) roundups, reviews of newer albums, and plenty of idiosyncratic stuff. We have featured a few reviews by the proprietor before, today we celebrate the milestone by running two more. According to BreadGod both albums "have easily earned spots in my best albums of 2013 list."

Cover artwork by OKKVTE.

Syria is an absolute mess right now. There are far too many details to go into, so to keep it simple, let's just say the scene's not pretty. Despite all this carnage, two intrepid men have found the time to create dark, blasphemous black metal. They call themselves Theoria, and Mantra is their debut. First of all, you gotta have some serious balls to be producing metal in the middle east, especially if it's black metal. Second, when I went onto their Bandcamp page, the slogan on their page banner read, “Every man is but a galaxy unto himself.” This quote sends an individualist message and stands in direct opposition to the original collectivist quote from John Donne, “No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.” I'm loving these Syrians already.

Despite being made in a war zone, the production quality is amazing. The distortion has that classic Norwegian fog aspect to it, and the music just exudes a powerful atmosphere. The drum performance feels and sounds raw. They let loose a torrent of stripped-down blast beats and rapid double bass that create swirling mayhem. The guitar performance is equally raw. They mainly utilize rapid tremolo riffs and cloudy, distorted riffs that sound like a swarm of hornets. Some of the riffs are slow and depressive, such as on “The Chime of Lifeless Matter”. For some strange reason, they remind me of Grimlair. They also play these dark clean guitars that give the music a dissonant, Deathspell Omega-type feel. There are even times when they'll play thrashing rhythms. Some of the riffs on “Inner Tempests” remind me of Metallica.

The vocals consist of a hoarse, gremlin-like rasp. Normally, I don't like this type of vocal performance, but I think they make sense in this context as they help give the music an unearthly feel. Speaking of which, the keyboards also help to reinforce this atmosphere. Sometimes they create an interstellar environment, such as on the song “Theoria”. Other times they play these passages that give the music a mysterious desert feel.

Many black metal bands glorify war, death, and destruction, but they have never experienced it. They don't understand the true gravity of those subjects. These Syrians know. The emotions they display on this album are genuine. This is one of the most enchanting displays of raw black metal I've heard in a long time. It's dark, it's dreary, it's gloomy, but it also has a wondrous mystique to it, something that few white men could hope to produce. This album is available as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp, so go on there and pledge your support.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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