Lamp of Murmuur
Saturnian Bloodstorm

If you were familiar with Lamp of Murmuur’s previous output, it fell squarely into that lo-fi black metal category we’ve all come to know and love. I’ve listened to a lot of it over the years. Some bands do it to mask that they can’t write good songs. Other bands have the aesthetic and do write some excellent tunes. There are probably others I am forgetting, but Lamp of Murmuur is one of my favorites, along with Kekht Arakh. With that being said, I had high expectations for the new one, which was sure to be solid, if not excellent.

However, when I pressed play for the first time, I asked; “What in the Blashyrkh is this?!” The production is immediately and noticeably beefed up, heftier, and sounds like the young, hot stepsister (who probably got stuck in the dryer or something) of Immortal. The only real difference here is that the vocals are more, well, “moist” as our fearless leader likes to say. If not for that, you could be mistaken for thinking track 1, “Conqueror Beyond the Frenzied Fog,” came from the legends themselves in the Sons of Northern Darkness ere.

“Hymns of Death, Rays of Might,” the next track, is over 7 minutes, and treads some familiar ground, but also has one hell of a main riff, and a short mellow section about halfway in, which incorporates some choral vocals, while still stomping forward. There are also some keys/synths buried in the background, which have a noticeable but not overbearing presence.

The two longest tracks are back-to-back and close the album. “In Communion with the Wintermoon” is the first of those and it’s here where some issues with the production shine through for me. After having already listened for a half hour, I noticed a lack of dynamics. While it doesn’t sound smashed or brick-walled, like the latest Lorna Shore, this does become a little tiring. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel this way when I play it in my car, with headphones, or at my home theater.

Of course, I must speak about the longest track, which is of course the closer and title track, “Saturnian Bloodstorm.” I do love the quieter section after the initial, ummm, blood storm, but it doesn’t last. There’s much to admire here, as there are excellent riffs throughout, but I’m not going to lie and say they’re any different than the others, so 9 minutes of what I’ve already heard doesn’t seem worthy of further exploration.

I’m whelmed. I know, I know. Black metal fanboys in their corpse paint, skinny jeans, and fanny packs are going to give me hell for this once they step out in the sun. While I do enjoy it when bands step up and evolve, which is the case here, the production choice took away some of the charms of previous releases. This is treading new ground for the band, but overall absolutely not. I like it, but not enough to purchase it, and if I’m being honest, anytime I want this sound, I’m just going to go to my Immortal collection.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 19th, 2023

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