Remember back in the mid-1990s when every black metal musician of repute boasted involvement in at least one dark ambient project? Although the move away from metallic ground towards previously uncharted territories comes across as a farseeing maneuver in hindsight – black metal had after all reached its creative zenith at this point – the lion’s share of resultant products left a lot to be desired. For every enduring work produced within the field (Beherit, Burzum and Neptune Towers) there’s at least two dozen releases which ranges from mediocre to insufferable. Nindinugga Nimshimshargal Enlillara falls somewhere into the middle strands of the latter category.
Equimanthorn was inaugurated in 1992 by members of Texan black/death/speed metal act Absu to explore alternate musical and, supposedly, mythic/occult pathways in the form of “experimental and droned ceremonial oblations”. The debut full-length here under scrutiny can be described as concept-oriented dark ambient with ritualistic overtones that employ a wide array of musical instruments and techniques in its service. Black metal guitar drones, synth pads, piano runs and “primitive” percussion share the stage, arranged in linear sequences rather than layers. The main focus remains on the recitative material however, performed in a variety of manners (chants, narrations, shrieks, pitch-shifted impersonations, etc.) with the instrumental music repeatedly assuming an accompanying or augmenting function. The texts appear to be of Mesopotamian origin, although it might as well be taken from more contemporary sources such as the Necronomicon, if not penned by the band members themselves.
Judging from the striking cover art, gloriously convoluted album title, instrumental arsenal and conceptual/formalist aspirations it appears as if a good deal of labor has been invested into the project at hand. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the actual music. There is little continuity or structure to hang on to, melody and rhythm is completely fragmented and individual songs display very little regard of dynamics. Every sign of bad but inoffensive “experimental” music is at display here, making for a meandering, almost somnambulistic musical experience. The record might well have served as an adequate prescription for insomnia if it hadn’t been for the tedious vocal performances. Don’t let the lofty words, attractive packaging or underground credentials fool you – this one went straight to the bargain bin.