At first sight, the Balearic Islands don’t really look like the ideal cradle for sonic evil, but if you think about it yes, being surrounded by photogenic and more or less cool people in the hot months, and by who knows what during the rest of the year, might result in the generation of several malevolent side effects. In fact, Marasme have been active in the underground since 2008, even releasing a couple of pretty rotten full-length albums, but have only reached my radar this year with Malsons (“nightmares” in Catalan), published as a vinyl by those funny people at WOOAAARGH.
Let me start by saying that the cover artwork is a marvelous piece of abstract expressionism, which gives a really nice effect on the wide and refined cardboard surface. It reminded me, although with a different color palette, of the artwork from another great album released this year (the black metal vortex Eviternity by Kosmogyr), but here we are dealing with very different musical territories. Marasme don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re huge Cult Of Luna and Year Of No Light fans, and yet their sludge recognizably floats over Mediterranean waters.
Unexpectedly, Malsons is quite a homogeneous album in terms of structure: six songs, only one of which is longer than ten minutes (the last one, “Ruïnes”), and all lyrics are in Catalan. The heavy atmospheres are created by Dubi’s drums and Chús Ponce’s torrid bass lines. The song chosen for the band’s first music video, “Malbocí”, strikes us with the painful and creepy images put together by the videomakers of From Outer Space. As you listen to Malsons, you might get a strong feeling of being lost in the middle of the sea (or the desert), with a scorching sun above your head, as its glimmers on the water (or on the sand) mesmerize us; this atmosphere is skillfully rendered by the guitars, moving from the sparse clean sections to the oppressive distorted ones. Perhaps, the track where this feeling comes out best is “Ruïnes”, as Jeroni Sancho screams of an utterly desolate landscape, very likely destroyed and made barren by our negligence and greed.
The lyrics are another very intriguing aspect of this record, and fortunately Marasme decided to also include translations in Spanish and English, for people who don’t understand Catalan. Here emerges the concept of an apparently beaten humanity, bent by the dirt of the powers that be, where people have been reduced to mere gears of a hellish nightmare that will bring us to destruction. Nevertheless, in the chaos of resignation, the narrator tries several times to stir our awareness, pushing for conflict and opposition to these insisting Malsons.
This was quite a nice surprise for me in the realm of post-metal, which is a pretty unusual genre in these areas, with a mature work by a band that appears to have found its own style for emerging in the crowded marasme of sludge. We might hear of Marasme quite a lot over the next few years.
“Aquest món res no et pot donar: res per calmar l’anhel que et provoca el demà.”
(“This world does not have anything left for you. Nothing to calm the longing for tomorrow”)