Truth be told, the review you are reading almost didn’t come to fruition. Not because I am a lazy procrastinator, (even though I am a lazy procrastinator) but because I could never seem to make it through the first track of The Committee‘s second full-length album, Memorandum Occultus, before I was just bored to tears and would switch the album off. To be fair, “Dead Diplomacy – Weapons of War” isn’t an all out bad song by any means, it’s just too long, a bit unfocused, and fails to play out any opportunities that could be achieved. Thankfully, I eventually trudged onward and found the rest of the album to be much more appealing, though suffering from some of the same aforementioned complaints.
Backing things up just a bit, the mysterious collective known as The Committee employ a mostly black metal aesthetic, but shades of doom-y death clearly resonate from this long-winded, but still somewhat impressive and eventually entertaining effort. When trying to describe the sounds of Memorandum Occultus to a friend, I likened the album to a black metal burrito, filled with heaping influential amounts of Naglfar, Mgla, And Oceans, Immortal, Emperor, and Satyricon mixed with an extremely conservative bit of Eyes of Fire and maybe even some Dark Tranquillity (The Gallery era) held securely in a tight wrap of Rotting Christ. ( yeah, I know, its a horrible analogy, but it conveyed the point) All in all, the tracks found on Memorandum Occultus are pretty good, with each one offering something somewhat unique and interesting to the individual songs themselves. Be it the brief acoustic beginnings of “Golden Chains – Weapons of Finance” giving way to Non Serviam/Triarchy of the Lost Lovers influenced melody and attack, or “Intelligent Insanity – Weapons of Methodology and Duality” with its doom-y black presentation of what a Naglfar, Rotting Christ, and Eyes of Fire collaboration might sound like; it’s cold and dark, slow and emotive, yet somehow vigorous all at the same time. The song, maintaining a slower pace throughout, even when the bass drums kick in constant Bill Andrews’ (Death) styled glory.
“Flexible Facts – Weapons of History and Chronology”features some straight up feisty black metal. Some nice dynamics achieved in the middle of the track take a strange turn around the 6:25 mark. An almost tribal drum fill takes over with some progressive guitar inklings, backed by spoken words of J.F.K., building to a blackened doom feeling, fading into synths and ultimately, silence. Though all of Memorandum Occultus‘ tracks share and achieve a similar feel, my personal favorite would have to be “Treacherous Teachings – Weapons of Religion”. The song’s slower build up opens into a more traditional style, mainly in the drum work, with tremolo picked riffs merging into a vibe of Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden) drumming for Rotting Christ, while the 1:55 mark of double bass and tremolo picking summons feelings of despair and isolate dread. A true ominous doomed aura takes over around the 4:50 mark and through, with some great Gregorian and middle eastern voicings producing a total hard hitting moment, very much reminding me of Rotting Christ’s Sanctus Diavolos album. This moment is unlike any other on the album, before or afterwards in the track listing, flawlessly melding back into its original intent before closing out in slower fading fashion, with simple acoustic guitar having the final word.
Definitely, some good stuff is to be found here on Memorandum Occultus, though like I stated at the beginning of this review, there are some shortfalls. The first and most trivial, would be the lack of any proper guitar leads. Now, I realize not all songs out there require a guitar solo, but what can I say, I love them and I love the way they can open up ideas within a song. Lucky for The Committee, none of the album’s tracks are hurt in any way by the lack of them. The most notable and damning shortfall is the length of the material. Memorandum Occutus‘ six tracks each average a nine minute length and unfortunately, there are just not enough ideas within each track to merit this much time and overall, often repeated measures throughout, can become boring and disengaging. Removing a few minutes of a few of these repeated measures from each track would greatly enhance the listening value of the album and would achieve a much more epic, yet direct aural attack to the songs.
The Committee really do have a pretty decent release in Memorandum Occultus. As it stands though, there is too much repetitive filler in the way requiring a bit of persistance to find the good that lies within. Ultimately, I like what The Committee does and where this album goes, it just takes too damn long to get there.[Visit the band's website]