Lamp Of Murmuur – Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism
The black metal underground has been abuzz with the name Lamp Of Murmuur for months; the enigmatic soul behind the band keeping to the shadows while those who have fallen for their music trip over themselves to tell anyone, everyone, about this incredible raw black metal act. Purportedly from North America (the bandcamp page states Olympia, Washington as their location), Lamp Of Murmuur has been steadily ramping up their output since their sudden appearance in 2019 with the demo Thunder Vigil and Ecstasy, which was followed up with a handful of other demo recordings and a split with Revenant Marquis, leading the band to this, their debut full-length, Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism. The record is made up of new songs and a couple of re-recordings of tracks only available on out of print physical media (or YouTube if the desire should move you) and, hyperbole be damned, is incredible.
Lamp Of Murmuur’s take on raw black metal is certainly more…. elevated than most within the genre. Where some bands will go down the route of super lo-fi production and sounding as though they’ve recorded the album in the least acoustically appropriate place possible, Murmuur’s music has, while clearly not engineered by a professional, the atmosphere of having more “care” injected into it. This aesthetic choice will allow those who dabble in the fringes of raw black metal to find more clarity in the project while those who are familiar with the genre will appreciate the tones that Murmuur ekes out of their instruments. Synths are given prominence where needed, the bass is extremely clear when groove is required and vocals are not completely swamped by the guitars. This becomes especially important when a surprising, but quite lovely, clean vocal line is propelled forward during “Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism” and a fairly faithful adaptation of Dead Can Dance’s “In The Wake Of Adversity,” where Lamp Of Murmuur’s inspiration for the title track becomes all the more clear.
Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism is as exciting as it is dense; the first track “Of Infernal Passion And Aberrations” is a synth-laden, bombastic introduction to the album and Lamp Of Murmuur weave blackened groove into the fabric of the song, twisting the tempo on a whim and inserting noticeable bass-lines in order to fully push forward the melody. Vocals are, of course, slightly held back in the mix to give that shadowy atmosphere a boost but the voice is still a strong element. Howls, cries and guttural roars all feature and give the narrative multiple dimensions and while running for ten minutes plus, the song never veers off course and is engaging throughout. Creating cohesive songs that combine hellish speed, symphonic keys, doomier progressions and screams is not something that many could manage but Lamp Of Murmuur is adept at pushing black metal to its limits and in doing so, Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism feels like the work of a master – despite the band existing for such a short time and the person behind it giving very little away as to their identity.
“Bathing In Cascades Of Caustic Hypnotism” is an urgent call out into the night and the feeling that Lamp Of Murmuur is used to express ideas of an otherworldly nature are certainly present. The forceful and unending riffs that permeate the song giving it a cyclic rhythm that hypnotises until its final cry is extremely powerful. Many artists use their music to channel emotions that they would not otherwise be able to express and that does seem to be the rule in the case of Lamp Of Murmuur. Having such a prolific output in only eighteen months or so would lend itself to the music being an outlet for profound thoughts and feelings as to the nature of existence – life, death and the potential of rebirth. Songs that speak of the night and being drawn to the mysticism of the moon, the glamour of death and the call of darkness – Lamp Of Murmuur can be taken to be an extension of the artist’s mind and as such the music is deeply personal.
The riffs on Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism are exceptionally catchy, more so than they have any business being considering the style of music on display, while some synth lines also play with the more melodious side of things. “Chalice Of Oniric Perversions” is wave after wave of repeating guitar lines that burrow themselves deep, only being washed away by the utterly commanding opening of “Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism.” Guitars and keyboards coalesce to create a melody that is absurdly memorable, the radiant notes expanding into brighter territory than we’ve come to expect from this band before they move into bittersweet realms, expressing desolation through cries and keys that occasionally veer into the discordant. The song is extraordinary and, in all honesty, the moment that edges Lamp Of Murmuur out past most black metal, raw or not, is when a deep, clean vocal line fights against subtle screams for dominance, the song suddenly becoming a beautiful, haunting lamentation for what was lost. The two vocal elements move against one another, each allowing the other their space in the moment and showing that pain can be entwined deeply with beauty. It’s utterly captivating and the closing of “The Stars Caress Me As My Flesh Becomes One With The Eternal Night” is all the more powerful for it – the dungeon-synth structures swirl into the gloom and give over the soul to the pitch black cosmos.