We all know, at least we should, what poetry sounds like. It’s a ubiquitous part of every culture in the world. Most of us groan and bitch when we have to read poetry that we don’t want but the reality is that without poetry our collective societies need poetry to escape, to reimagine, and to define the world we live in. Poetry is the voice of the soul. Music is poetry too, after a fashion. Metal, too, despite it’s rough edges and nasty exterior, has a lot of poetry in it. I’m not just talking about the lyrics either. While yes there are some amazing poetic lyrics out there, Behemoth, Opeth, and Enslaved come to mind for me, I’m talking about the music itself. The very sounds within the metal albums. Poetry is not just words, it’s music, it’s sound, it’s the emotional response that we have to it. Poetry depends upon the reaction it creates to define itself. Take a look at Urfaust’s latest wonder, “Empty Space Mediation,” it’s an introspective piece that allows the listener to float on the surface of their subconscious.
It’s strange that a black metal album can be so thought provoking at first glance, but if we really think about it, black metal has a lot more to offer its listeners than just angry outlets against the establishment and Christianity (which are very much one in the same for the most part). It’s deeply poetic and thoughtful. Not all parts, for sure, there are many bands out there that just want to scream their frustrations and hatred to the unyielding skies and that’s just fine. Urfaust, though, takes a very different path. Their lyrics have a poetic quality to them, a sort of lilting back and forth melody of words but what I’m more interested in here is the poetry of the music, of the very sound that their instruments produce. Poetic sound goes beyond just melodies and harmonies, it’s about the emotions embedded into the music. Like I said before, poetry is defined not only by what it is on paper, but the way it interacts with the people that hear it. Empty Space Meditation has a deep, rich sound with loads of doom influences interwoven spectacularly throughout the songs. The doom influences, which sound like they were themselves inspired by early era Candlemass. The sounds are low and deep, filling out the lower end of the album while black metal riffs play on top with terrific atmospheric sounds. The album, I think, was meant to make the listener see things (not in a trippy, hallucinogenic way, mind you) that we don’t normally see. Music like Empty Space Meditation offers a door for the listener to look at a place differently. We see the deeper notes in reality, the hum of humanity might sound different, nature seems to beat to an entirely different drum that we believed and we are definitively and irrevocably changed by it. That’s how poetry works, and with just the music alone, Empty Space Mediations does that to the listeners. I cannot speak to what each individual will experience or feel because poetry is deeply personal and individualistic but I can say that the world will seem a little different to you once you finish the album.
There’s a subgenre of dark ambient music called ritual ambient, characterized by an almost religious tone. It uses instruments and sounds that are associated with worship or mediation like church bells or the low drone of people as the pass through a cathedral. I would like to offer Empty Space Meditation as a piece of ritual black metal. It’s not a religious (or anti-religious) piece of music in any way but one cannot deny the deeply spiritual feeling the music gives to the listener. The music’s composition has a very baroque style and atmosphere. It’s not quite classical in its complexities but it has a greater, and more varied atmosphere. The music is not a story, it’s snapshots of time. It has the heart of the commoner in it. It’s the simple, repetitive tasks that normally people go through day after day in a ritual like fashion. That in and of itself is meditative and poetic.
Each song is formatted to stand on its own but if you pay close attention to the music and you listen in the order the album gives you, you can notice patterns and melodies are played throughout the whole thing. Empty Space Meditation is one of those albums that are meant to be played complete. The music is circular, each song is individualistic but calls back to and relies upon the songs and music around it to truly communicate its effective message.
I loved Empty Space Meditation, from the first note to the very end. It took me too long to find and listen to it but now that I have I feel like the world is different. Not better or worse, just a little different. The colors, such as I can see them, are richer or duller. Urfaust blend some terrific black metal with doom and comes out as something entirely unique. It’s beautiful and melodic without being melodic in nature. If you are only going to listen to one new album this week, or this month, listen to Empty Space Meditation and you will not be disappointed.
Listen and support!