Apr 10, 2012
Mhönos - Humiliati ...
I often talk about genres on this site but now and then I come across a band that almost goes outside of genres to the point where it is very hard to put any label on the music. That can be said for the one-man project from France known as Mhönos. The last piece of work I heard from the band was 'Rotomagus Ritualis' and that was a hit or miss affair and frankly some of that album I found to be just plain irritating. However there was also moments of captivating brilliance of hypnotic occult-driven drones and this new album seems to focus more on that side of the band and that is a blessing. Where I think the last album failed, this one succeeds on all levels but back to the genre question for a moment. Mhönos on the surface appears to be a bleak kind of black metal but once you press play, all kinds of other musical spectrums arise. It is drone in the Sunn 0))) vein but it never goes totally in that direction. It is doom metal but again, it could never be classed as pure funeral, death or traditional doom. It is very ambient but too ugly, ominous and bleak to fall under the generic ambient music banner. The one reoccurring theme to all the music though is unrelenting esoteric dark atmosphere. With all these different sound textures all within the one album, this is a release that will appeal to a range of heavy music listener's but with one requirement, you have to be in love with the extreme to get anything out of this.
A word of warning right from the start now, the bleak passages on this album are put on repeat ad nauseam. There are only three songs that fill up some 67 minutes of torture-filled soundscapes so if you are looking for variations and mood swings, you won't find it on 'Humiliati'. You also might find yourself lost for one highlight because it is all kind of the same for the entire 67 minutes. However, this is so mesmerizing and insanely atmospheric that if you are in the right frame of mind, this can be a great album but you have to be in the mood and that is when the questions begin. A few of the elements that make up this album take a while to get used to. There is an overwhelming lack of guitars and everything is incredibly repetitive. Also everything is so sparse and cold sounding, it can seem a little sterile in places. Add to this; that the lyrics are all in Latin so the concepts behind these songs are difficult to get any sort of handle on.
Despite all that, there is something about this that draws you in. It is the kind of album you may seem bored with one minute and then the next minute, you are hooked in once again. The song titles all have mystical sounding, almost unpronounceable names so that is something that made me interested and wanting to know more about what these pieces are all about. After some research, I gave up in trying to understand and now I just let the music suck me into its esoteric magic. The void left by the lack of guitars is filled with sickening bass lines so it is easy to forget about the guitar situation and some of the riffing that is here, is amazing, even if it is in small doses. It is all about the atmosphere that is so cold that even the drums sound like someone beating a human corpse most of the time. The vocals are also used in a cold, atmospheric way that could be compared with something you might hear on a Sunn 0))) album but even that band doesn't stoop to this level of bleakness. The production isn't great but it is hardly weak either, it just gets the job done and not much more can be said about that.
Without a doubt, 'Humiliati' is a big step up from the last album and certainly easier to sit through but it won't be for everyone. Fans of Sunn 0))) who also have a taste for blackened doom will be the ones most likely to get something out of this album but I haven't a clue who else will be attracted to this release, frankly it is too extreme and sparsely ambient for the average metal fan. Interestingly enough; the band apparently was rejected by The Metal Archives for not being "metal enough" which is lame considering they have many similar blackened drone-metal acts on the site. I would just suggest ignore all that and give this a listen, they are an acquired taste and it takes a few spins to fully enjoy but I think 'Humiliati' is an engaging album worth investigating.....8/10.
PS: I couldn't get their website to load, maybe it is down or maybe it doesn't exist anymore. Hopefully you will have better luck than I did.....ed