Lunar Mercia
Leaving the Fragile Space

A late 2022 release that I got my hands on even later in 2022, Lunar Mercia is a post/atmospheric black metal band from Birmingham in the UK, and resides in the same dark, dreamy, melodic, jangly space as Ghost Bath, Wolves in the Throne Room, Woods of Desolation, Harakari for the Sky, Alcest and such.

And while all of the genre tropes are here; melancholic but melodic tremolo-picked riffs, bleak, distant rasps, somber atmospherics, expansive songs (the album is 41 minutes but only 3 real songs and an interlude0  light dark hues etc. But where Lunar Mercia has a difference maker is the gorgeous often-used clean choral/choir-like vocals of bassist William Southworth. And I mean GORGEOUS. To hear such an angelic voice come from a big, bearded, burly dude like myself is jarring. Think Neige on Alcest’s debut Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde, or the epic climax from Light Bearer’s “Silver Tongue” track. And it’s not the only time I get a Light Bearer vibe, as some of the crescendoes and transitions could also come from Light Bearer‘s more introspective moments, but more on that later.

The 3 long songs are all enthralling, varied, expansive, slightly depressive journeys into atmospheric black metal.  The opener “On the Veiled Road” is a 14-minute monster that delivers everything the genre demands with top-notch skill and songwriting. In particular, after some bristling black metal,  the last half, which is largely acoustic/orchestral with Southworth’s ‘altar boy in a cathedral’ vocals, is just mesmerizing. The transition/bridge and subsequent chord progression about 10:45 in is just absolute, knee-wilting perfection, maybe because it, as I mentioned earlier conjures Light Bearer‘s finest moments.

“Sombre Corruption” is a mere 12 minutes and has a nice, proggy, Opeth-ian sway and Southworth’s croons and some wondrous keyboards for its first 8 minutes before a smooth acoustic bridge before a sudden and jarring pure black metal explosion that actually made me jump. Then the melding of black metal harshness, dramatic strings and Southwold’s clean vocals come together for a stirring final couple of moments.

After the lovely interlude “The Loss”, which is 2 minutes of acoustics and Southwold’s vocals,  the 12-minute title track rounds things out, and again its first few minutes keep me thinking of Light Bearer‘s beautiful builds and transitions, I kept expecting Alex CF to come in with a harsh shout at any time. The song has much more of a post-rock ebb and flow until about 5 minutes in where we get a superb, haughty 6/8 tremolo riff that Vallendusk would be proud of. And then the shift into a glorious mid-paced crescendo about 8 minutes in, is AGAIN,  something I expect to hear from Light Bearer, and it’s emotional, its brilliant right up to its watery fade out.

A killer, self-released debut from a new band I will most certainly be keeping an eye on and along with Lightlorn, and the new Woods of Desolation has gave atmospheric post-black metal a shot in the arm in late 2022.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 13th, 2023


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