Some bands the RMR horde covers are way out there in the left field. And it’s not because they’re bad, it’s because they don’t give a damn about styles, conventions, and – seemingly – profits. They might lean a bit more this way or that, but by and large, they just do their thing.
The Czechs from Et Moriemur are one of those bands. They first appeared on our ‘zine with their 2014 piece Ex Nihilo in Nihilum to benevolent but still pretty limited applause. The RMR crew somewhat shamelessly ignored their pretty neat album Epigrammata from 2018. But their newest piece Tamashii No Yama usurped our full attention. And again, not because it is truly astounding, but because we’re still puzzled after dozens of listens. New beginnings? Perhaps.
It is true. RMR himself is a tad biased towards everything with a Japanese look and feel, food included. This also extends to music, of course, and we already enjoyed other Nippon-related atrocities1) in the past. And – in truth – the record had us transfixed. A subtle yet pretty neat arrangement serves as a foundation for an equally spiffy production. In a way, the record often feels like one of those Japanese cabinets that allow you to keep all items neatly arranged.
It even turns that overly lengthy and weird piano intro called Haneda into a fascinating affair despite itself. An artful display of piano sounds that leads seamlessly into drums. And once – after the start of Sagami – the full band finally chimes in, this starts to feel like some sort of a soundgasm.2)
But make no mistake, Et Moriemur still sounds very much like themselves. Their pig-headed approach to doom didn’t leave the building. Only this time, the band refined their art even further. Tamashii No Yama added truly established and artsy melodies to its repertoire. Gone are the sometimes awkward acoustics, and in come subtle orchestrations that made us raise our heads more than once. So much so that the fine-tuned mélange of oriental and western sounds effortlessly weave in and out the harsher parts of the record. Otsuki and its noteworthy change from harsh metal to cool piano might be one of the best examples.
Now, this is not to say that the band left the shiny path of metal. If anything, the RMR crew found a more complex construct that gallivants into the alternative realm more than anything else. Yet, doom and subtle melancholy still are in their musical genes. And that often ends up in the lands of Doom Death Metal with some sturdy prog coming in from the left side.
Zdeněk Nevělík‘s typical ‘core-ish vocals, together with wails and some monologues, will always maintain a subtle feeling of tearful doom. In short, you’ll find a delicate mix of metallics that quite effortlessly mingle with Eastern folk instruments, such as the rarely used Japanese Shakuhachi for instance. Or with more classical instruments such as the aforementioned piano, the viola, the violin, or – again – the harp.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. And this is the enigma of the RMR crew’s endless befuddlement. Tamashii No Yama contains a ton of frizzy ideas that somehow found their way onto the record. All kinds of tastes and flavors that missed the filter and freely flowed forward. And this – more often than not – creates a somewhat disjointed and – at the same time – bloated impression. Also, Nevělík‘s seemingly ceaseless and truly monotonous howls started to grate on our bones after a while. Something that almost made us give up with the overly lengthy Takamagahara which in itself has a lot of merit. In other words, I am missing that ‘fil-rouge’, that epic and smartly clipped flow, the messaging that should pull the listener along like one of those tsunamis.
And this is a true pity. Because finally, Et Moriemur created a good conceptual record that saddles you with hauntingly beautiful passages and finely connected harsh and truly metallic sections. The band also aptly created a very tasty (pseudo) Japanese soundscape that allowed Western and Eastern influences to co-exist. Some well-executed version of in-yō3) of sorts.
So, Tamashii No Yama would indeed contain all the ingredients for a great record. But the aforementioned impurities constantly knocked us off course over all those listening sessions. And this turned smooth sailing into somewhat of an anti-collision exercise through an uncharted rocky reef.