Monday 10 June 2019

Roaring Empyrean - Cosmic (2019)

Country: Iran
Style: Funeral Doom Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 8 Jun 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Instagram

There were a few reasons why I added music reviews to Apocalypse Later this year, on top of the book reviews I've been writing since 2014 and the film reviews I've been writing since 2007, but one was discovery. Everything at Apocalypse Later revolves around discovery and I wanted to see what was out there in the musical landscape of 2019 that I didn't know about. After all, modern music sucks, right? Nah, I wasn't buying that. What was I missing?

One discovery was Roaring Empyrean, a one man project from Iran that merged funeral doom with new age music, a counter-intuitive recipe that I couldn't imagine working but which somehow did. Well, Amir Asadi aka Doomed Shinobi, the one man who creates this intriguing music, found my review of Monuments and sent me a copy of his new EP, Cosmic. I've been looking forward to that point where a band I've reviewed releases new product so I can explore their growth. This EP marks the first repeat 'band' here at Apocalypse Later.

Monuments aimed to create soundscapes to evoke majestic creations, whether they were created by man or nature. This EP continues in that vein, each of the two instrumental tracks combining the slow and plodding beat of funeral doom with the swirling atmospheric joy of new age, a heady mixture of which I'm getting rather fond. It's often background music, easy to listen to and easy to be distracted from, but never for long as there are odd elements to draw us right back in again. Everything here is built from contrasts, even how we interact with it.

While the general approach is similar to Monuments, I'm also hearing a wild and abrasive edge on both tracks that goes beyond the clashing that we got on Mountains of Torment last time out. It's there in the metallic dissonance found in the second half of Pillars and it's especially there on Gates, from its very beginning, a gritty, almost industrial vibe underneath the new age electronica, like a Nine Inch Nails layer on music more overtly influenced by Tangerine Dream.

Of course, that makes it all the more eye-opening to suddenly catch a melody that's notably reminiscent of Abba's Lay All Your Love on Me, merely slowed down to the tempo of funeral doom. I'm enjoying the Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares vibe and focusing on that dark and jagged underlay when suddenly there's an Abba melody. The world of music is a glorious thing.

These two tracks are long, as you might imagine for instrumental tracks that serve as soundscapes. Pillars runs almost ten minutes and Gates almost nine, which is a decent amount for an EP. They develop and they end without ever outlasting their welcome, even on a fourth or fifth time through.

While I liked this, I think I liked Monuments more. If there's a flaw, it's a really odd one. The cover art is of a galaxy and the EP's title is Cosmic, so I presume this is aimed at taking us on a journey into space. I have to say that I didn't get that from the music at all. The darker edges took me to darker, more hellish places, which isn't a bad thing at all, but perhaps isn't what Asadi intended.

I enjoyed this and am eager to hear what he might conjure up next. In the meantime, this EP is available at Bandcamp for the paltry sum of one dollar (or more, if you're so inclined), so I highly recommend that you pop over there and pick up your copy.

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