EREMIT - BEARER OF MANY NAMES
PLANETARY SLUDGE DOOM DONE IN THE SLOW COOKER.
Are you sitting existentially? Then brace yourself. Germany’s Eremit are purveyors of a form of sludge doom that is so glacially slow-motion and gravitationally heavy it feels like time itself is developing a sink hole. The music is topographic in its sheer, drawn-out scope and so slow and gradualist it could plug an aeon. Bearer of Many Names comprises three craterous doom metal songs that run just over a gargantuan 70 minutes’ runtime. Those with a short attention span need not apply.
Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness starts with sparse, lonely, contemplative chords for a number of unhurried minutes. It is lulling, reflective and not a little despondent, which only makes you jump out of your skull when it erupts into a freezing blast of devastating blackened noise. The rattling percussion and tormented howling screams are part of the most frantic passage of the record; but Eremit are not designed for speed and the song soon reclines into a tortured funereal, planetary crawl. It is like the soundtrack of a devasted, lifeless world. It takes time for an Eremit song to start budding but when it does the sound is enormous, muscularly meditative but hardly taking the path of least resistance with desolate waves of riff repetition.
In fact, Eremit’s principal songcraft technique lies not just in coastal-erosion pace but in concussive repetition where varying iterations and wavelengths of the same initial riff are repeated many times over. Chord progressions are re-run lugubriously and hypnotically for minutes at a time, sometimes barely developing except in only subtle subterranean changes in pulse or timbre. These are long haul, full-immersion experiences where song development barely registers at times but a transporting, mirage-like atmosphere is all.
While the same formula is used to construct Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artifact the aesthetic has more of a bleached desert stoner doom vibe. The same elephantine riff is re-purposed either as a heatwave-stricken plucked string or blasted in bloated, heavy low-end rumbling fuzz. Somnambulant and meditative it is like the sonic visualisation of a featureless wide-horizon.
If you made it this far, the album’s closer Unmapped Territories of Clans Without Name is, at eighteen and a half minutes, the shortest song on the record – though it probably will not feel like it. In a now highly familiar rubric, the song builds like a bleak, dense photosynthesis by developing steadily to an expansive, droning crest of heaviosity.
Eremit proffer widescreen epic aural vastness where evolution takes its own time. Stylistically this is completely in-keeping with their earlier work. There are elements of the emotional depth of post-metal, the basaltic fury of Neurosis at their most dissonant, the aridity of desert session stoner doom, and the preternaturalness of black metal. Sometimes the songs do not so much develop as hang, with very few massive – and admittedly good – riffs played repeatedly over many minutes with only the pace or volume adjusting.
The most unavoidable aspect to this is pace and length. While Bearer of Many Names creates a mighty impact of ruminative desolation and seething drama that would accompany a funeral of a planet, its handful of riffs being re-treaded for well over an hour will simply be too much for many. Indeed, Eremit would be unlikely to lose any of their enormity by trimming some songs down a bit in terms of run-time. All bets on whether they will, however, are off. You really require to be in a zone or be willing to enter one to appreciate this form of music. If you are, this will be less of an endurance test and a full-on otherworldly inscrutable journey. If not, the Eremit cannot help you.