Review: Memnon Sa – Citadel

Memnon Sa - CitadelThe first low power chord of Memnon Sa hits me like a death knell. There is an inescapable finality to Citadel; a blizzard of electronics shield me from natural light, while each return to that guttural root note brings my attention back to the demise that lays beneath me. It is beautiful for the sake of being so. Guitar leads are hoisted upward like the flags of a pirate ship, undulating as if recounting ancient, poetic folk stories of supernatural myth; they are colourful and beautiful, but rather than emanate with the vivacity of life, they feel like means of bringing grace and honour to the act of death. They are final acts of defiance and sombre triumph, defying gravity momentarily, pushing back into the light for mere seconds at a time.

It’s my last hour alive. Citadel is a doom record in ideology more so than sound, and where so much of the genre feels akin to gigantic vertical pillars – death as an unfathomably large, immovably bleak object – Memnon Sa feel more human in scale. Many of the rhythms are swung, which renders the melodies much more curvaceous and ornamental as they roll and tumble over the top; the gloom feels all the more fallible for it, particularly during the bluesy temple excavation of “Black Goddess”, whose open space circulates with gusts of disembodied woodwind and synthesiser. Meanwhile, closer “Kali Yuga” feels illuminated by a sense of acceptance – cymbals glimmer as I willingly embrace the twilight, as the album makes a rare tilt into the radiance of major key. Birdsong flutters to my left. I slip out of my wilting body and into the liberation of silence and eternal peace, cradled by guitars that whisper messages of reassurance on either side.

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