Mephorash – Krystl-Ah Review

If it wasn’t for the wise Madam X, I might never have stumbled on Sweden’s Mephorash. After our Queen of Darkness shared the nifty little Covid concert the band released in 2019, I was hooked. Released the same year, Shem Ha Mephorash remains one of my favorite black metal releases. If you don’t know Mephorash, it’s all about the build. Using long song lengths and a tracklist structure that flows from one song to the other, they combine various elements to deliver a big finish. These elements include orchestration and keys that produce haunting atmospheres that match the vile vocal diversity. From throat-shredding rasps, booming male choruses, and soothing female chants, there’s no shortage of variety in their songwriting. One second, you are being bulldozed by wicked drum work and blackened guitars. Another, you’re lost in utter hopelessness, trapped between booming atmospheres and gorgeous guitar leads that have no right being on a black metal album. Mephorash is back, hoping to achieve an impossible task: releasing an album better than Shem Ha Mephorash.

At first glance, Krystl-Ah appears to be every bit the same kind of album as its predecessor. One-hour-plus runtime? Check. Songs that flow from one to another? Check. Unbelievable vocal diversity, massive song structures, and climaxes that are worth every second? Check, check, and check. But, somehow, there’s even more to Krystl-Ah than meets the eye. For example, “Gnosis” is the saddest piece the band has ever written. The crying child at the beginning gives way to clean guitars and gentle chanting. As it ascends, the female backing vox and fitting guitar solos intensify the mood. With each climb and fall, another layer surfaces in the form of powerful male backing vocals. As we near the end, each new layer adds crushing weight to the climax.

Krystl-Ah by Mephorash

But, for all its massiveness, the closer is the most epic of the band’s career. Clocking in at over sixteen minutes, “Mephoriam” is the true rollercoaster ride of the album. Like a slow-burning fuse, the calm introduction, tolling bells, and quiet, dissonant guitars build the tension. Along with the male and female chants, a new set of vocals appears. This time, it’s a strong, clean, male voice that I can only describe as desperately screaming to God in the heavens. Each time the band completes a build, the guitar work becomes more aggressive—transforming from simple, eerie pluckings to monstrous chugs. When the climax arrives, its layers of orchestration, strong vocal performances, and screaming guitars are beyond what I can describe. With each repetition, it’s not so much that more layers are being added. It’s more like Mephorash clones itself, adding another band of instruments and voices to the mix. By the time the song ends, four Mephorashes have gathered in the studio to bring it to life.

Other epic numbers on Krystl-Ah are the massive “Soma Yoni” and the album highlight, “I Am.” After another gentle introduction, “Soma Yoni” matches soaring guitar work with the sky-high soprano that gives an unsettling air to the song. The song also sports some of the most vicious vocals the band has ever put to tape. After a simple, single-guitar plucking—surrounded by a woman moaning in ecstasy—the band unleashes a bangin’ groove that gives way to clean guitars before the final build. But “I Am” is the most spontaneous, passionate, and powerful song on the record. Like Shem Ha Mephorash’s “Sanguinem,” “I Am” will stick with me forever. Beginning with a calm piano, the ascent begins when the organ kicks in. When the vocals arrive, a new level of viciousness surfaces. After a quiet passage of whispering prayer and piano, the song erupts into its final build. Like “Mephoriam,” it intensifies, adding more than layers to each repetition until it finally concludes.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the band pulled it off. For how much I love Shem Ha Mephorash, Krystl-Ah is a better album. But it’s more than stronger songwriting and album flow. Mephorash has grown and evolved its sound in the last four years, dropping an album you can tell they are proud of. Though the album opens with the weakest piece, it recovers and strengthens with each passing moment. Thankfully, the band has continued to have high standards regarding the dynamics of their releases. Moments do hide in the massiveness of some tracks, but everything is present and accounted for. Krystl-Ah can pull at ole Grier‘s heartstrings, leave him in complete disarray, and even get his head banging. Krystl-Ah is definitely in my end o’ year contention.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Shadow Records | Regain Records | Bandcamp1
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: November 10th, 2023

The post Mephorash – Krystl-Ah Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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