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Merciful Nuns - Thelema VIII (2016) - Review

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Band: Merciful Nuns
Album title: Thelema VIII
Release date: 4 March 2016
Label: Solar Lodge

01. Dystopia
02. Allseeing Eye
03. The Aeons
04. Red Flame
05. L.V.X.
06. In Silence
07. The Law
08. Thelema

It's impossible to imagine gothic rock without the name Merciful Nuns, before that without the name Garden Of Delight, and of course one of the most important artists inside the genre, Artaud Seth, whose name is written with big letters in the minds of each and every lover of dark or goth rock. Garden Of Delight who were in their beginnings mainly influenced by mighty Fields Of The Nephilim and The Sisters Of Mercy in the first place, but still were gradually creating their own unique style, are counted also as the pioneers of second wave of gothic rock. In the time of their existence they released 16 studio albums and since Garden Of Delight called it quits, Artaud Seth and his partner in crime Jawa Seth, together with Jón Tmoh, decided to start a new creative era under a new name - Merciful Nuns. Thelema VIII, as the title suggests, is already the eighth studio album for this enigmatic beast of darkness, mystery and occult.

If Merciful Nuns took us on the voyage across astral spheres and dark universe with Exosphere VI, and made us discover ancient mythology, thus the roots of civilization with Meteora VII, Artaud this time based the thematics of the album on religion based on a philosophical law named Thelema, and the law of Thelema: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will", which was developed in the early 1900s by Aleister Crowley. Thelema VIII is the first album in the discography of Merciful Nuns that was released two years after its predecessor, before that every year we got one or even two albums from them, but no matter what, the result is that Artaud and co. nailed it this time with one of the most adventurous and atmospheric albums we ever had a chance to listen in gothic rock. Merciful Nuns were always masters in creating huge vibrant atmospheres, as well we were used to hear that in many of Garden Of Delight albums, especially in the second era of the band, classics like Apocryphal I: The Fallen and Apocryphal II: The Faithful, come in mind at first place. But in Thelema VIII there's kind of a dark ambient vibe implemented in the background, and at this place the pioneers of the genre Lustmord come in mind.

Thelema VIII is a musical adventure by all means, it opens in such a glorious way with "Dystopia", where the listener is immediately drown into the purifying darkness with flamboyant pulsations, Artaud's penetrating preachings and emotive sacrilegious ambiances. "Dystopia" is in my opinion and for my taste maybe the best thing I've ever heard from this band, it's so very deep, powerful, dense, yet thanks to the soaring vocals and vibrant melodies it takes your soul into higher state of awareness. "Allseeing Eye" is pure gothic rock perfection, it seems just like if the best elements of The Sisters Of Mercy combined with best things of Merciful Nuns were put on the same place, and is an example how to create darkened goth hits. Pulsating resonant bass lines, mystical dreary keyboards in the background and kind of a hypnotizing drum beats, together with sparkling melodic guitar riffs create a track that will make many hearts bleed. Step by step Merciful Nuns leads us into the oblivion of dark ambiances with nicely building tensions and cold soothing cinematic atmospheres in "The Aeons", "L.V.X.", "In Silence" or with shamanistic mass in the short intermezzo "The Law". Merciful Nuns throw all the rage out in driving gothic rocker "Red Flame" and in the closing track "Thelema" where Artaud hails the gods of darkness; I don't know if it's only me, but in the final stage of the song I hear being disguised kind of a similar vibe to the one of Therion on Vovin. Sometimes you'll feel almost like being severly drugged and taken to attend kind of a black magic ritual, when the hypnotizing ambiances, mind penetrating floating waves of sound and subtle pulses of darkest kind of melancholy create in your mind mirages of things from dimensions unknown.

The new offering of Merciful Nuns is nothing but a masterpiece. Not so many times an album with its unrelenting pathos has the power to make even your heart and even the bones tremble. Thelema VIII is a sonic journey through radiant dimensions of mind, into all things occult, it's some kind of a cinematic dark goth/ambient/rock adventure with a constant dreary presence that awakens the inner dark thoughts of the listener, yet is full of emotion and it holds a seductive character needed to fully embrace darkness and light of higher truth behind this concept. Thanks also to perfect production and final mix that adds a lot of depth to this already very rich sound and the whole thing becomes even more addictive while it leads into the higher state of astral consciousness and finally into utter silence...

And that's not all, those lucky who'll get the deluxe edition will be granted by the EP Allseeing Eye, which beside two altered versions of the hit single "Allseeing Eye", feature as well a non album track "Isolation" and different version of cinematic "In Silence", certainly a surplus and worth getting it as it expands even further the horizons of this mastery.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10