Even after enjoying 2015’s 1557 – Rites of Nullification and getting a taste of the band’s new material on last year’s The Third Woe, I still wasn’t really prepared for this. Shem Ha Mephorash might surprise you by just how good it is, as it did me. Mephorash may not be a well-worn name in black metal circles, but after absorbing the band’s new release, that could well change.
Shem Ha Mephorash is bold and confident, and strides into the crowded black metal landscape with firm goals and a strong presence. Across 74 minutes of misanthropic black metal the band ably show what they’re capable of, and set about carving out their own space in the wider blackened environment.
Although the band are perfectly capable of speeding up and unleashing icy blast beats whenever they feel like it, much of this release centres around mid-paced blackened groove and slower, darker elements. The music is ritualistic and feels very ceremonial. Never lacking in grandeur, these songs evoke occult imagery and mystic auras with ease. Add to this a strongly atmospheric streak that shows the band to be quite proficient at crafting apocalyptic mood, and you have a very strong and enjoyable piece of work on your hands.
The vocals, diverse and emotive, are enhanced with chants, ethereal cleans, and choirs. All are very well performed.
Well-written and intelligently crafted, Mephorash have created an engaging, atmospheric album that speaks of otherworldly places and darkness and woe as if they were a long lost friends. Although the band do have an aggressive side that can be quite cutting and lethal when unleashed, Shem Ha Mephorash is more concerned with feel and emotive delivery than anything else. In this it succeeds, despite its considerable length, and I have to say that Mephorash have never sounded as impressive as this.
Very highly recommended.