Misanthur - Ephemeris

04 Jan 2022 - Thorsten

Post-Black-Metal, Avantgarde | Season Of Mist Underground Activists | Release date: 15 Oct 2021 | Favorite song: Black Clouds & No Silver Linings

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Częstochowa is Southern Poland‘ s Silesia-region is famous worldwide for the icon of a Black Madonna in a nearby monastery which is centripetal point of many legends – my favorite one is the legend of a soldier who struck the icon twice with a sword and who then was struck by lightning! Many people know about the Black Madonna? Yes, but do many metal fans know about it? Maybe more than one thinks, but from now on, they should know the city as the origin of a pretty promising metal band called Misanthur!

Misanthur was founded in 2015 by Hellscythe and Draugr and Ephemeris is their full-length debut which was released by Season Of Mist Underground Activists in mid-October 2021. The record is a very positive surprise as it is covering a lot of genres and, more importantly, uses all of these genres for its own purpose – to depict the eternal struggle of man against his biggest enemy, man himself. Each song works like a chapter in the diary kept during the journey into and through the battle. “Diary” or “journal” is the translation for the Latin word “ephemeris” so that now one already knows the meaning of the record title and its connection to the songs. Unfortunately, it is also obvious that this struggle knows no winner but only losers because man loses; even though one might argue that this is depending on the point of view; a positive one might also stress man as the victor of the battle, but we are still talking about the dark forms of metal, so one might assume a rather negative lookout onto things and proceedings.

The bigger surprise to me was the musical virtuosity of the Hellscythe, who is also responsible for the production of the record, and Draugr, both being multi-instrumentalists with the latter one focusing more on the rhythm section and Hellscythe focusing more on the guitar work and the vocals. The duo uses black metal riffs and post-punk patterns as the basis for most of their songs which then result in songs that remind people of Ustalost, Iskandr or fellow-Poles Ars Magna Umbrae. Misanthur take you on a journey filled with perfectly placed post-punk infused songs such as the opener ”Enter The Void” (a very telling title for an opener, btw) which is maybe one of the most attention-seeking openers I heard in “dark metal”, as they call it, in all of 2021 and that moment when the mid-tempo song picks up speed and volume – miraculous. But even more magical is the moment after roughly four minutes, when it completely breaks down and leaves the listener with pure jazz noir – for a mere 30 seconds and then hell opens its gates again, completely with blastbeats, simple black metal shrieks and swirling tremolos reaching for the exit. (Un)fortunately that exit can only come in the form of the next songs. … you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

One might analyze each of these songs as minutely as the opener, but I want to take a look at only one more: ”Black Clouds & No Silver Linings”, one of the oldest tracks on the record because this one starts very differently. Here, one is immediately thrown into the throngs of quicksand massacres with some of the bass lines seemingly collapsing over the listener’s head. And when the song breaks down after a minute, it is quite a bit of a relief, even though it is clear, that this relief is only temporary. The pace is slowed down close to “the speed of doom-metal” but then the synths paint of bright umbra lights on the horizon, this mixture of blood red and mud-brown through which one can see that there is light behind it – but it is unclear whether this light is of a positive, saving nature or a dark, even more catastrophic origin. After four minutes simple guitar pickings guide the way towards the horizon of again all-encompassing guitar tornadoes and hopelessness. Remember there are ”… no Silver Linings” on this horizon!

Even though this may sound very dark, but the sounds are indeed not hellishly black, also because the production of the record is not a lo-fi cacophony but trying to highlight each element of the tracks at exactly the moment when it needs to be highlighted. The songwriting is really good and the comparison between Yellow Eyes and Fluisteraars might be a bit clearer than one thinks at first glance. Give this record the chance of a second and/or third spin, and I am pretty sure you will have found another awesome atmospheric black metal record and band for your collection! And you will know one more cool thing about Częstochowa in Poland!