Album Review: Nero Di Marte - Immoto
Artist: Nero Di Marte
Genre: Progressive/Post-Black Metal/Sludge
Review by Mothlord
Gloomy chords shimmer ominously in the first opening moments of "Nero Di Marte's" Immoto.
A lurking sense of uncertainty hums with a sneaking confidence swelling as each disjointed note begins to dance in more intimate rhythms to coalesce finally into a glorious cacophony of dread. Dread distilled through angular musicianship apparent in the furious primal groove of thundering and impactful drums intertwining with horrifying and desperate guitar motifs that are commanded by the tortured throat of soaring and operatic howls and grunts, like a maniacal Devin Townsend lost to a hopeless void of despair. Soaring deeper and deeper into the black unknown we are treated to a fantastic image of the kind of cinematic evocation present on Immoto.
Sisyphos, is an apt name for a song that undoubtedly evokes an understanding of pained and poetic struggle both futile and rewarding in nature. This was my first introduction to this band, with this as their third album. Perhaps even more Sisyphean through its composition, L'arca builds almost like a despondent prog-metal anthem, with crunching yet crooning bass lines resonating betwixt the delay leaden strumming of off kilter and sombre guitar notes. I find myself thinking of a much darker and twisted version of Gojira in the developing, lumbering motifs.
This may seem in contrast to my previous description of a cacophony of dissonant post-black metal. But it is this that inspired me to sink into this record and write a review on it. Though via description it may very eclectic, but everything fits together and gels smoothly.
The song rises and rises to new heights as the journey continues on and the struggle endures in a new light. Each passage a new plateau of morbid contemplation and existential pondering, before continuing along the dreaded path, as the philosophical weight finds an accomplice in gravities embrace.
This of course is my attempt to define the growing and developing tension and strain of the song, that tears left and right with percussive and caustic intensity laying more and more onto the listener in layers before reaching a sudden release into respite. It is the immaculate sense of tension and dynamics, and confident use of rhythm and timing that Nero Di Marte use to create a near masterful cinematic experience. Each bar, each riff unfurls and flowers into the next. But they do so with such a complex and thoughtful, yet organic manner. From textural post metal, to lurching and crunching sludge metal, to groove heavy prog elements. This album is certainly an endearing and compelling experience, played out scene by scene. Immoto the title track hums and breathes with melancholic introspection in it's airy, and doomy dark jazz sounding introduction.
Moving in measured steps, both delicate and confident. It would be more accurate to suggest this piece dances a violently dramatic, if not fiendishly and deceptively predatory dance.
It is terrifying in its tenderness, trancelike, alluring and mesmerising. This is only more clearly expressed without soft falsetto harmonies wafting in as a nice change in pace for vocal work.
The dance slowly widens in stance and becomes more manic in gesturing and grandiosity painting curiously malign images in the mind before launching the listener from a gentle yet unsettling waltz into a devilish samba of winding and lurching guitars and pounding blast beats. This is one of my favourite moments on the entire record, with one of the more memorable riffs utilized. Semicerchi as beautiful as its sweeping reverb soaked melodies are, seems an odd choice of a track to suddenly follow such a climax at the end of the previous track. It is heavily atmospheric with glistening tones floating in a paradoxically comforting and also disconcerting manner.
As expected we drum rhythms churn, building and developing in response to the heightening emotion in the vocals as they strain to a peak of entrancement and the clashing of guitar and bass.
Quite often I would describe this album as sounding very trancelike in nature, despite its business. Or another appropriate description is that Immoto is a very dreamlike album in the most literal sense. As the musical narrative shifts both inexplicably but also logically and reasonably between planes of depth, melody, rhythm, intensity and structure. It feels at times very familiar and also alien. La Casa Del Diavolo groans and shifts and near sensual post-metal/drone-esque motifs that swell with subtlety and ferocity but also swing. It is on this song that I really find time to praise the vocal work laid out by vocalist/guitarist Sean Worrell.
Perhaps it is the Spanish title of the song but I am reminded of seminal Japanese sludge/doom/drone band Corrupted and their former vocalist Hevi's sombre aching and guttural crooning. I am also reminded of Shining vocalist, Niklas Kvarforth who is also known for pained and dramatic operatic vocals.
As much as I have such a fondness and love for these kind of theatrical forms of singing. A somewhat recurring vocal support and counterpoint in black metal shrieks or death metal bellows may have added that extra amount of variety in flavour.
In saying that, it is quite clear this song was constructed in a way to truly accommodate and display the most powerful of these qualities and the vocal performance throughout the record is without fault. Musically La Casa Del Diavolo has some of the best uses of restraint in creating tension, to finally release to a cataclysmic barrage of desolate drums and guitars upon conclusion. "Irradia" is a particularly slow song that takes its time to evolve through cold, echoing layers atmospheric guitars. Lush and cavernous, it is a pleasure to drift through this doom heavy piece.
However it is at this point that I begin to feel a strain on my attention span, as nigh most of these songs have neared or succeeded the ten minute mark.
It is an uncomfortable strain, as I wish to savour every moment and have grown to love Nero Di Marte's brand of blackened/post/prog metal. But there is just so much to digest, and that same dreamlike quality I highly praised is also it's only bane that sees even the very best moments beginning to feel lost.
If the album was structured a little differently song wise to break up the constant pace of looming and engulfing sonics, it might maintain its freshness and impact throughout. Perhaps it is also an indication that this is truly an album to enjoy and savour semi-consciously, drifting with the ebb and flow of music. Rather than listening with intent as you try to process the prismatic pieces shifting unendingly. It is as I have just come to that point of mental fog that I reach the final track, and shortest in length at just under five minutes, La Fuga.
This is the track that may most appeal to those who appreciate the more extreme side of the metal spectrum. There is a heavier focus on the unorthodox tapestries of dissonant guitar work and a latent sense of imminent conclusion to this grand journey through reflective intonation and a continual and easier to follow form of rhythm.
It is this piece that truly cements my comparisons to bands like Artificial Brain, Ulcerate, Plebeian Grandstand and the masters, Gorguts. And is a perfect piece to tightly encapsulate what it is that makes Nero Di Marte special, whilst also not giving too much away.
It is now that I finally begin to cling again tightly to each developing idea as it builds more and more into a swelling climax to then suddenly end and I am left feeling a sense of intent desire to know where Nero Di Marte could now go as a band. I was left only slightly wanting by this record, hoping for just a little more focus and honing in on certain ideas to create significant moments. But I only say that out of a sincere adoration for what this band is so clearly capable of and investment in the band as someone who has felt captivated by their artistry.
I hope in future the band also chooses to experiment even more as they have laid an incredible foundation with Immoto and the previous two albums.
There is no doubt to their genius in creating interesting and cinematic compositions through highly skilled musicianship and an understanding of musical storytelling. Rating: 7.5 out of 10
FFO: Gorguts, Gojira, Devin Townsend, Karnivool, Plebeian Grandstand, Ulcerate, Artificial Brain
Immoto is out now via Season Of Mist.
The artwork of 'Immoto', which has been created by Alex Eckman-Lawn, can be viewed together with the album details below.