Mairu – Sol Cultus
Release Date: 28/07/23
Running Time: 48:16
Review by Dark Juan
I would like, if I may, to take you on a journey. You are all no doubt aware, because I bang on about them all the time, that I am quite fond of dogs. With the loss of the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover a couple of months back, there was a yawning, even more black chasm in what passes for Dark Juan’s heart. This proved impossible to fill with just Hodgson Biological-Warfare in Crow Cottage, so Mrs Dark Juan and I have done something possibly foolish. We have acquired a new Hellhound. This has caused considerable chaos in my previously ordered home. Hodgson thankfully appears to quite like the miniature psychopath.
I formally announce that the new, insane puppy in Dark Juan’s life is now known as Moss Grimshaw Ravensworth III. I have already had to prevent my laptop from being rather severely nommed. Also, the little fucker keeps trying to steal my tea and my beer and we all know that Dark Juan is fuelled by these two excellent beverages. Thankfully, His Tiny Satanic Majesty has worn himself out and he is currently snoring gently next to me. This is my cue to…
…Fire up the almighty Platter of Splatter™ and share with you my views on the latest recorded release by Liverpool-based Post Sludge Metallers, Mairu! Not one of them has a perm or a moustache or a shellsuit, so we have successfully got those tropes out of the way. Indeed, they look like quite severe gentlemen who might attempt violence upon the frail and waiflike personage of Dark Juan. Best not make any more Scouse jokes, even though Dark Juan himself is a quarter Liverpudlian thanks to my Nanna. And my lovely daughter lives there.
The name of the album means “sun worship” and the whole record, if taken literally, is a paean to the flaming fusion reactor in the sky that has been curiously absent from the environs of West Yorkshire recently, and the theme of the sun weaves its way through the song titles and the lyrics of this work. The music, however, is not cheerful and sunny. It is misery in aural form, yet curiously uplifting in a strange kind of droney way. The arrangements and the production of the record are top notch, in parts sounding like the band have taken the lo-fi aesthetic of primal Black Metal as the starting point for the sound of their instruments, but then the listener starts to detect gorgeous little subtleties in the music and the settings of the planks the band are spanking to within an inch of their woody lives, and it is this subtlety that breathes life into Mairu’s music. They could just have liquified Dark Juan with an endless wall of sound, but Mairu are much, MUCH crueller than that.
‘Torch Bearer’ is uncompromising as fuck. It kicks you in the guts harder than a North Korean interrogator and floors you and then just keeps on stamping, albeit slowly, taking mucho time to taunt and degrade you in between the hobnailed boot crashing into your ruined face endlessly. The vocals from three out of the four great gentlemen in Mairu run the gamut from emotional, broken howling through rage-filled screaming to mountain shattering grunting. This depth of emotion and differing approaches add serious light and dark and interest to the music. ‘The Scattering Dust’ is an instrumental piece, and one that showcases the band’s ability to let music breathe. Long, slow, Drone passages give way to the band picking up their metaphorical skirts and hoofing it along a bit, before returning to the threatening, slow, inexorably violent sound of a band who are only being constrained from ultraviolence by the fact that they have an album to finish recording. Now fuck off.
The sense of menace and threat that Mairu conjures up on this album never leaves you. It is a seething, shadowed thing that slinks and creeps through the darkened passages of the already tortured psyche of this reviewer, just waiting with zen-like patience to leap and strike right between the eyes. That doesn’t mean that Mairu are just spectacularly violent. ‘Per Alia’ is a simply gorgeous synth-based intro to ‘Atar’ (which I am assuming is not a song about the jet engine series that famously powered Dassault Mirage III, 5 and F1 fighter jets in the 70s. Well before the Israelis got their hands on Mirages and changed the engines to the General Electric J79, inadvertently giving birth to the Israeli Aircraft Industries Kfir via the Dagger and the Nesher, BUT I AM ONCE MORE DIGRESSING. Why does my brain do this to me?) whose opening drumming does not give you the slightest inkling as to the horrors and the power that the band are going to release upon you.
The bass sound on this record is something else. It manages to combine a bottom end deeper than the Marianas Trench with both clarity and purpose that by no means overwhelms the rest of the instruments, but it manages to shake loose teeth and offer you the chance of a good old-fashioned straightener on the cobbles and a lead instrument that gives a sepulchral, throbbing, organic backbone to the music. The guitar work is also pretty grand. The guitars are sinuous things, slithering and venomous, and radiate a palpable and deeply terrifying sense of menace, even when playing a quiet passage, such as the introduction to album closer ‘Rite Of Embers’. This song has a slowly building, endlessly patient, predatory quality to it – it takes its time to stalk the listener and is almost sensual and seductive. It is like a big cat hunting – all restrained power, slow and deliberate, tensing its haunches ready to spring and tear out the throat of the listener when they least expect it.
So, there we have it. Super heavy, Droning and Sludgy and very, VERY good. I didn’t mention molasses once and now Liverpool has a band as good as Carcass or Echo and The Bunnymen to carry Scouseland forwards into the sunlit highlands of fucking good Post/ Sludge Metal as well as Splattercore and Goffik misery.
Unpopular opinion: the Beatles are overrated, and Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles. This normally upsets Scousers. Toodle-pip!
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System distances itself from Dark Juan’s baiting of Liverpudlians and wishes it to be known that the opinions of Dark Juan himself are not shared by the Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System, which is desirous of awarding Mairu 9/10 for an almost perfect record that deserves a far more massive audience than it’s probably gonna get, as they are a fantastically challenging band with much to give the listener. An essential purchase if you want your mind expanded.
01. Torch Bearer
03. Inter Alia
04. Wild Darkened Eyes
05. The Scattering Dust
06. Per Alia
08. Rite Of Embers
Alan Caulton – Guitar, piano and vocals
Ben Davis – Drums, synths
Dan Hunt – Bass, vocals
Ant Hurlock – Guitar, vocals
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.