This article makes the third time we’ve paid attention to Ossadas, the forthcoming second album by the Portuguese band Carma. The first occasion was a commentary on the album’s first single, “Memória“. The second was an unusual review of the album written by Axel Stormbreaker, which integrated the music with the viewing of a movie about Edgar Allan Poe named The Pale Blue Eye. And now we present another single from the album named “Monumento“.
The album is an emotional powerhouse, one that deeply immerses the listener in its concept, which was inspired by the Conchada Cemetery located in Coimbra, Portugal. As described by the Monumental Rex label that will be releasing it next month, Ossadas is an exploration of “various cemeterial aspects, such as the architecture, the burials and the atmosphere, and the related feelings – fatalism, futility, loss, mourning, longing, among others.”
The titles of the record’s nine tracks are the most common words that appear on tombs and tombstones throughout the cemetery, and even the lyrics (in Portuguese) contain certain verses engraved on the cemetery’s tombstones. But it’s the music, which integrates funeral doom, black metal, and ambient, that most deeply involves the listener in the ever-present daunting realm of death and all the feelings that it brings.
That first single, “Memória”, is unmistakably an expression of doom metal, but an expression that brings other ingredients into play. Mournful strings and lonely bass notes provide the overture, and from there corrosive guitars pick up the melody and carry it forward like a coffin almost too heavy to bear, over harrowing screams and a staggering drum cadence, accompanied by a lead guitar that wails its stricken lament.
In time, everything becomes more stricken, from the increased feverishness of the drums to the long agony of the guitars. Even the spoken words that arrive seem afflicted. After a pause, the dance of the guitars becomes a sound of yearning, just before the music swells and sweeps across pulse-punching drums, and the voices turn to hallowed singing. The experience is abysmal, but also tragically beautiful.
The song we present today, “Monumento“, was the subject of this excerpt from Axel‘s evocative review, which includes an allusion to an event in the movie:
“[T]rue pain foretells no good story that ever came without the simplest plot twist. Because “Monumento” arises, in imposing posture, to reassure the finality of doom. Because, despite Ossadas‘s enchanting diversity, it does indeed remain a funeral doom release. Its blackened riffage reaches, not abrasively, but methodically, an eventual redemptive climax. As if an invisible hand is moving behind the scenes, guiding each and every action.”
“Monumento” was based on the toccata from “Suite Gothique” originally written by Léon Boëllmann in 1895. That toccata, which you can listen to here as performed on a magnificent organ, is ominous, mysterious, delirious, and grand. You can hear its influence in Carma‘s “Monumento“, even though the song’s pacing isn’t as manic as the toccata.
The music, much like the song’s title, is often towering in its dark magnificence. It’s also formidably daunting and disturbing, especially in the torment vented by the harsh howls and growls, but also in the plodding, plague-infected chords and high sweeping and searing tones that seem to channel agony and despair.
The song is also elegant, especially in the softer passages where the guitars ring in glittering tones that bring the organ performance to mind, and it also has a pulse-punching effect as the bass throbs alone and the drums hammer. The toccata swells to a crazed, breathtaking crescendo, and so does “Monumento“. In fact, the whole song is likely to leave most listeners wide-eyed and short of breath.
Ossadas is 68-minutes long, so there is much more to discover in the album besides these two songs, including the three beautifully interwoven instrumental interludes”Leirão 1,” “Leirão 4,” and “Leirão 7”, but hopefully these two songs will already convince you that the entire experience will be one to relish.
Monumental Rex will release the album on March 3rd in digipack CD format, as well as a special handmade edition, with apparel, and a digital edition is also available. Pre-orders can be placed now.