Saturday, 7 September 2013

Mansion - We Shall Live (2013) | 94%

If we seek forgiveness, the burden will increase”

Get your vacuum and explore that mansion!

A snowy ground & icy fields, a flow of pristine crystal clear water flowing down the river bank or Saku Koivu being an awesome captain. All these things are reminding me of Finland but at the same time, it's things I know I'm familiar with in my own northern Eden. Populated with aurora borealis and unexpected skiers, both countries can be perceived as similar. But we, Canadians, aren't used to saunas and weird accents everywhere. While we compose boring tech death and frigid, conservative black metal, the Finns, the de facto metal kings of the world, are playing a vast array of genres and the style Mansion decided to explore is one of my favored right now. In fact, this is perhaps the best release the Scandinavian country (or is it Scandinavia, who cares except geographers and historians anyway?) has offered to the so-called recent occult rock/metal movement.

Compared to fellow countrymen Jess and the Ancient Ones, Mansion is definitely part of the metal universe. The doom metal influence is thoroughly present albeit combined with a sort of psychedelic, atmospheric or even Gothic rock sound. The four songs EP has this dark, shady aura inspired by this religious Finnish Christian sect from the early 20th century called Kartanoism. To explain it briefly, this sect included child preachers, complete sexual abstinence, nightly sermons, end of the world expectations and very strict rules. I'm obviously not an expert on the subject, but I'm pretty interested and I'll categorically investigate the matter. Religions are often dark enough to be a totally apt lyrical field for metal bands, as it gives an airy, sermonizing vibe and it's totally the case here. At twenty-two minutes, I wish the sermon was longer, my mind was ready to hit the floor for the return of Jesus, my brothers! Of course, I do believe the religious inspiration is mostly a gimmick, but it's a gimmick that works here. Even “mansion” means something like “kartanorakennus” in Finnish to expand on their theme. They don't need evil popes, no ma'am.

While the music is more simple than occult rockers like The Devil's Blood or Year of the Goat, it's as or even more emotional. The female vocals are pretty damn awesome; mesmerizing and charming but also dark and bewitching. The delivery of the yet unknown singer (named Alma, the same name the leader of this cult had) is top notch. The high, sexy vocals are creating a dichotomy with the “SEX IS THE DEVIL” ideology of Kartanoism. I rarely heard such sex appeal in a doom metal band, I would probably climb on the sacrificial altar myself if I was ordered to by her. The vintage rock vocals really made the band for me, a bit like Jess' vocals made JatAO one of my favourite albums of 2012.

There's no really intricate guitar solos or fourteen minutes songs here though, apart from the exceptional first track that is seven minutes, all tracks are around five minutes. It's a pretty catchy release that left me breathless. Intense emotions aside, the band knows how to measure out their approach, it's not overwhelming. It could had been way more progressive, heavier or even more experimental. But what's so good is the mix of small quantities of everything into their memorable formula. I mean, yes, it would had been awesome to hear a more complex songwriting but as a first release, it established a luscious formula. The tempos are mostly mid paced to slow with pretty simple, yet interesting riffs. I mean, compared to a band like Jex Thoth, it has riffs and not only a special atmosphere with a focus on the vocals. “We Shall Live” has a rich, subtle instrumentation that we can hear in the last track “Slumber Sermon”. It has some noisy feedback and an ingenious but mysterious use of keyboards that is also opening the EP. You can imagine the despair and brainwashing that this religious community lived with in its era and the piercing cold of the wind on your face.

Their dark, fun and entrancing doom is simply of the highest quality you can find. Maybe their sound is not the most adventurous and they're perhaps openly riding a trendy wave but they're doing it in the best way possible. Mansion already achieved a level of maturity that will make Selim Lemouchi blush and punch random people in the streets. Greatness is already a given, I wonder what's next. They're without a doubt the best new doom band of 2013.

No comments: