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Merciful Nuns - A-U-M (2017) - Review

Band: Merciful Nuns
Album title: A-U-M
Release date: 7 April 2017
Label: Solar Lodge

01. A-U-M
02. Beyond Nirvana
03. Eternal Decay
04. Cremation
05. Kundalini Express
06. Discloser
07. Lightwaves
08. Lost Chord Of The Sun

One of the most creative forces inside dark/gothic rock scene must be the German cult trio Merciful Nuns. Nine albums in seven years for this band which is counted as a darker successor to the legendary Garden Of Delight, must be a loquacious fact enough to see the creative potential of the band masterminded by charismatic Artaud Seth. Merciful Nuns with a well thought manner how to reach and gather their fans through so called lodges, created quite a devoted base of followers, not only that this band is now one of the most respected acts inside the genre, their never ceasing artistical creativity is one of the most intriguing inside the whole dark music scene. It's not necessary that every single album released by Merciful Nuns appeals in its entirety to every dark music lover, but for sure it brings something new to the palette. This new opus of Merciful Nuns might be in the beginning a bit diffucult to grasp properly, but slowly it unveils in its splendor to everyone who dares to give it the time to flourish properly.

A-U-M is the ninth album in a row, a successor to the amazing Thelema VIII, released one year ago, and this time Artaud, Jawa and Jón takes us on an epic and occultistic journey through the pansophic traditions of sacred wisdom and knowledge, more precisely into the realms of Eastern philosopy. So it's nothing strange that sonically this album is intersected by oriental ambiances, but yet this is nothing really new for Merciful Nuns, as they were experimenting with such things also before. The sound of Merciful Nuns is becoming in a way from album to album a bit more subtle and ambiental, still powerful and by all means ritualistic. A-U-M is hypnotizing, from the very start to the final lines, it has the necessary power to transport the listener into the midst of a shamanistic ritual of the far Eastern tradition.

The album opens up like we are already accustomed with a strong album titled opener, maybe not so solemn and impactful as the one on the previous album, but it captivates the listener enough to emerge deeper into this maelstrom. While the next one "Beyond Nirvana" is a bit annoying and aggravating, the real masterpiece reveals to us with the fantastic vibrant goth rocker "Eternal Decay". With use of some well placed electronic samples the soundscape becomes very dense and richly layered, not to mention the strong and reverberate bass lines, typical goth rock guitars and pulsating beats wrapped together into such a captivating melodic yet quite catchy rhythm. But without Artaud's hypnotizing, deep, rather raspy, quite emotional when most needed, but yet very strong and above all soothing voice, the sound of Merciful Nuns wouldn't have such power to enfold the listener deep into his soul. Merciful Nuns instrumental side is compact, deeply immersive, like for example can be witnessed in the powerful blow like it is the proper maelstrom named "Cremation", which in a way reminds me to early works of Garden Of Delight and if we go yet a bit more back in time I can say that it's rather influenced by early The Sisters Of Mercy. Then the things piece by piece become even more obscure... "Kundalini Express" is a soothing ambiental piece with some intriguing sparkling guitars, followed by rather psychedelic "Disclosure", a bit tribalistic, but somehow too mellow. Then we get into the most ambiental and sacral point of the album with "Lightwaves", with Artaud almost reciting the vocal lines and backened by some tasty but haunting atmospheric soundscape. The best is reserved for the end, the almost 12 minutes long epic "Lost Chord Of The Sun" is a proper journey into the most inner state of self existence.

A-U-M is a very dark album, maybe the darkest one done by Merciful Nuns so far, it offers some of the best things that Merciful Nuns did so far, but it also serves with some a bit more middling compostions. All in all A-U-M is one hell of a highly dynamic record and sorrounded with impressive contemplative yet mystical aura. Like almost every album of theirs also A-U-M has a stunning production which adds a lot of depth and power. This new album doesn't really reach the heights of Thelema VIII or of the magnificient Exosphere VI, but certainly in there's a certain pathos which perfectly connects the songs into one nicely flowing mass of shamanistic and occultistic ambiental dark rock manifestation that hardly finds any equals in this more or less stagnating scene.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10


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