Review: Erlen Meyer – S/T

Erlen Meyer’s debut is an ugly thing. Its grim and solitary melodic language is pumped outward with an extroversive force, vibrating under the strain of pulling inwards and bursting outward simultaneously. Those that recall Cult Of Luna’s early recordings – pretty much a doom-centric interpretation of dark matter collapsing through concrete – will undoubtedly find parallels here (not least because CoL’s resident producer Magnus Lindberg is on mixing and mastering duties), with minor-key chords pulling miserable faces and alternating with guttural, writhing guitar malfunction. But for all its jerks and heaves, each track here trawls a predominantly smooth dynamic path – the momentum is strong and unfaltering, carrying the music’s gargantuan weight on a continuous cycle of obliteration and replenishment, like a filthy and ominously inexhaustible hydraulic machine.

But what really perpetuates my intrigue is the band’s multi-faceted (perhaps paradoxical) sonic personality. Each downstroke is an assertive declaration in pure unison; a muscular thump comprised of each member thrusting downward upon the earth at once, with distortion and screams spilling from the hole punctured by every bass drum plosive. But how formidable are Erlen Meyer really? I often feel as though their powerful sound is a mere shield for the fragility that glows through the cracks – a means of amplifying inner misery to the point where it subsumes all else like an apocalyptic plague, and conjuring the image of a looming storm cloud to mask the fact that Erlen Meyer are actually a frail, quivering figure beneath it. Intimidating stuff, but rendered somewhat intimate by the knowledge that the band are perhaps just as intimidated as you.