“Mournography is an exploration into the mysteries of tragedy, blasphemy, death, and love; both literally and figuratively…The mourning of some, the lust of others. These songs praise and pervert the Word of God simultaneously: providing a deeply unsettling spiritual experience set to a bleak backdrop of melancholia.”
The words accompanying the new EP from UK goth/dark metallers Her Despair perfectly encapsulate its tone, heart, and seduction. It is a journey into dark places as broad as they are intimate through a sound as melancholic, thickly shadowed, and mesmeric as the emotion laden words within.
Formed in 2015, Berkshire hailing Her Despair began as the solo project of J; the album Hymns For the Hopeless its introduction that April. It set down the seeds and template for the rich fusion of atmospheric and emotive gothic and dark rock with the trespass of punk and metal. It was a captivating raw mix within that first encounter but now with Her Despair a fully-fledged band makes for one richly compelling proposition within the new encounter.
With guitarists Dan and Jord, bassist Vikki, and drummer Lee alongside vocalist J, and recorded with Matt Bew at Whitehouse Studios in Reading, Mournography immediately strikes the imagination as it opens up with Blaspheme With Me. Straight away there is a tenacity and controlled urgency in rhythms as the guitars entangle their lures; an energy which fuels every aspect of the emerging song until it hits a boisterous stroll behind the enticing tones of J. Hues of bands such as Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim collude with the uniqueness of Her Despair as the track grows, each essence adding to its captivation and seamlessly changeable gait. The outstanding song epitomises the band’s sound; it’s embracing of sturdier metal traits with its gothic instincts.
The following Valentine’s Mourning similarly has a raw energy and swing to its attack driven by the senses nagging boisterousness of rhythms with this time harsher punk essences infesting its character. Keys add to the melodic seduction and flames tempting within whilst as with the first track, an organic catchiness brings something akin to bands like Dommin to the imagination.
A darker calm caresses ears next with Within Tragedy; it’s almost funereal march an imposing yet rousing incitement matched in tone and intimation by the air and words escaping J’s vocals. The track is pure seduction with heavy drama in its tone and an immersive lure to its rich web of almost threatening romance.
Charming keys and harmonic calm opens up Damnation Tonight next, their coaxing soon immersed in the song’s thick theatre of sound and intimation. Though missing the final spark of imagination of its predecessors, the track simply tempted and embroiled ears and thoughts in its creative and emotive melodrama as the body instinctively swung to its virulent inclination.
In the Arms of a Sadist brings the EP to a close, it too making a calm entrance with reflection colouring word and sound. It is a dark brooding though which escalates throughout, sometimes ebbing as the track and J’s vocals reach deeper into the heart but always giving a magnetic shadow and trespass to the dark intoxication.
It is a fine conclusion to a release which fascinates from start to finish. Possibly there is a lack of individual surface uniqueness between the five tracks making up Mournography yet each enthrals in their own ways, more so with attention and time, and united ensures from start to finish the EP transfixes and impresses; increasingly so by the listen.
Mournography is released July 20th; available @ https://herdespair.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 17/07/2018
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