Thursday 21 November 2013

Review: Merciful Nuns – 'Exosphere VI'

'Exosphere VI' 

If there’s one thing that Artaud Seth does well, that's thematic continuity. From Garden Of Delight, through Lutherion and now with Merciful Nuns he gets his teeth right into the arcane subjects of his studies and crafts around it. Previously looking at subjects like the megalithic cultures of pre-history, ancient astronauts and the apocalyptic Nibiru theory, the Nuns go far beyond the confines of the occult as explored by a lot of other bands. His latest outing with the Merciful Nuns is no exception.

The third full-length Merciful Nuns album in the space of twelve months, 'Exosphere VI' leaves the ambient progressiveness of it's predecessors behind in favour of the band's heavier rock side. In fact this is the heaviest output Seth has put out since the last Lutherion album. Opening with the title track 'Exosphere' the band revisit the foundations of their sound as laid out on 'Liber I'. 'Blackbody' and lead single 'Supernovae' then continue the heavy riffs and rasping baritone combination before the band slow things down with the slow groove of 'Astral Plane'.

'Ultraviolet' slowly builds from a long ambient intro into a heavy rhythmically orientated track before fading into the light piano of the considerably shorter 'The Core'. 'Vimana Machine' then breaks out the middle eastern influenced strings and rhythms for a brilliant track that musically sounds like a cross between Kula Shakr and The Sisters Of Mercy. The album is then rounded off with the eleven-minute long epic that is 'The Passing Bell'. Full of smooth bass grooves and haunting jangling guitar it, more than any other track here, feels like a musical continuation from the previous Nuns albums.

Seth and his cohorts have once again, despite their frequent output, come back with a new take on their sound. The heaviness of the first few tracks resonates through the album, giving 'Exosphere VI' a much different atmosphere to the rest of the band's discography. Comparable to the heavier end of the Garden Of Delight albums as well as the Lutherion output it revitalises the the band's sound, turning it on its head and proving that they still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves yet.

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