In late July of this year Trepanation Recordings released the debut album Sol Cultus by the British post-metal/sludge band Mairu. In our review (by Mr. Synn) we praised its sheer sonic weight, and its engaging nuances:
“For all the album’s devastating density and immense intensity (or should that be ‘intense immensity’?), however, it’s clear that Mairu possess a keen understanding of the importance of employing a variety of tones and shades as well, with every punishing passage of gargantuan grooves and hammering heaviness being carefully balanced by moments of mood-altering ambience and/or gorgeous, gloom-shrouded melody that serve to add an extra dash of musical colour to the group’s creative palette.”
What we have now, one month after the album’s release, is a reminder to those who might not yet have discovered it, and that reminder takes the shape of an official video for the song “Wild Darkened Eyes“.
Sol Cultus translates as “sun worship”, and Mairu chose it for the album’s title as both a literal and a metaphorical concept. Literally, it is the sun that enables life on our world, a fiery orb of immense size and foreboding power that keeps the Earth turning and all of us breathing.
Metaphorically, as the label explains, it’s a reflection of “how long the quartet spent working tirelessly, grafting and breathing their passion into this album over the years, keeping their inner flame burning brightly; a solar flare bursting with energy.” And it further represents “an embodiment of radiance and warmth through a world of darkness and menace — a triumph through times of intense tribulation”.
Sonic shades of brilliant light and shadowed gloom pervade the album, as well as experiences of pulverizing heaviness and gossamer fragility. You’ll get a sense of that in listening to “Wild Darkened Eyes“, a song first released as a single in 2019 but present as a revitalized new recording for the album — though in this one the sonic and emotional darkness are predominant.
Unlike some songs on the album, this one includes shattering vocals, ranging in their harshness from scarring screams to harrowing roars. They provide textures that enhance the ravaging and wrenching impact of the music, which is further underscored in the video’s imagery of terrifying, lightning-spliced storm clouds.
The music is often brooding, bleak, and brutish, inflicting pounding percussive punishment and grim, raking chords. Through tremolo’d frenzies and wailing leads it also creates disturbing sensations of unnerving tension and vicious turmoil.
What’s fragile in this song are the reverberations of brittle acoustic notes and shimmering synths — though they don’t brighten the mood. What follows that digression is music of towering despair, and perhaps intense yearning, and then a growling bass and somersaulting drums lead us back into an experience both daunting in its heaviness and searing in its intensity, where acidic shrieks again abrade the senses.
Alan Caulton – guitar, vocals
Ant Hurlock – guitar, vocals
Dan Hunt – bass guitar, vocals
Ben Davis – drums, synths
Mairu have thanked producer, engineer, and guest performer Tom Dring (drummer of Corrupt Moral Altar) for his work on Sol Cultus. It was largely recorded at a new state-of-the-art studio called The Arch, converted from a disused church.
Sol Cultus is available now through Trepanation Recordings, and it’s recommended for fans of Cult of Luna, Tool, The Ocean, Bossk, and Hundred Year Old Man.