After keeping a low profile for the last few years, Oakland-based dark metal act Mefitis recently published a three-song single in digital format as a precursor to their upcoming debut album.
Citing dark metal as “a culmination of the darkest elements of black, death, and doom metal, with a heavy emphasis on riffs,” musicians Pendath and Vatha present a subgenre of metal that amalgamates the techniques of these subgenres into a musical vocabulary kept organized and coherent by strict compositional discipline. The composite nature of the music makes a closer approximation of the band’s style elusive, but the casual listener can detect influences from early-1990s Nordic death and black metal from both Scandinavia and Finland.
Similitude of style takes a back seat to the grasp that Mefitis has of the compositional and expressive possibilities opened up by bands such as At the Gates, Darkthrone, Sacramentum, and Adramelech/Demigod. With focus on the underground metal method of tailoring songs into consecutive series of meaningful events, each of the tracks translates into a journey where layers reveal themselves during repeated listens. The title track sets the stage with its propulsive rhythm and seamless expansion of core motifs, urging the listener to conquer decadent lands with an insurgent, militant spirit. “Battering the Oppidum” and “Banished to the Arid Wastes” expand upon this ideal, but summon a brooding mood that mirrors the desolate scenery envisioned in the cover artwork courtesy of Turkka G. Rantanen.
In stark contrast to the majority of contemporaries, Mefitis avoids the major pitfalls associated with debut releases. Rather than opting for the easy routes of imitation and/or novelty, Widdrim Hymn showcases a band working confidently within the early 1990s underground paradigm and claiming within it a voice of its own. With the combined blessings of imagination and proficiency, Mefitis achieves a level of quality that stands in glorious defiance to this most miserable year in metal music.