Mefitis don’t give the listener any warning when their EP Despair begins; opening track ‘Cetus’ has the kind of non-introduction that had me wondering if the first moments of the song had been cut off the recording. This misstep aside though, it’s hard to find fault with the EP. Taking a progressive approach to black metal that will appeal to fans of Enslaved or Emperor (minus the symphonic elements), Despair is a riotous ride; a twenty minute blast of adrenaline filled black metal, with a sense of unstoppable momentum and passion.
Separating the four songs on Despair and analysing them in any kind of way that splits one element from the other would do the EP an injustice. This is a record that is very much about how the whole comes together. Sure, there may be stand-out moments, such as the progressive rock indebted guitar solo during the closing stages of ‘Cetus’, or some of the guitar melodies in ‘Ecdysis’ that owe a clear debt to Opeth’s early albums; but this record is at its strongest when everything is considered together. No element is out of place, and whilst there is always something interesting happening at any given point – be it a guitar melody, drum flourish, or venomous vocal line – it never feels overwhelming or that the different elements are undermining one another. Considering the ambitious song-writing on display, that’s quite an achievement.
As such, it’s even more frustrating that the EP begins in such an odd way (the ending on final track ‘Lotophagi’ is similarly abrupt). However, those issues don’t stop Despair being an excellent listen, and demonstrate that progressive black metal can possess a hell of a lot of fire and fury. The Beijing band’s debut shows a lot of promise, and it will be very interesting to hear what they have to offer next.
Despair is out now and can be purchased here.
Words: Stuart Wain