Meza Virs – Vida Sacrificium Meum Est - 4/5
A release that has been sitting on my list for far too long, it was only recently that I remember they still had yet to be written about. Hailing from Singapore, a country that isn’t exactly well renowned for making metal music even though neighbouring countries have begun to develop their own niche style – the Japanese have their virtuoso musicians and Taiwan has bloomed two superb black metal bands – it would perhaps appear that another country has begun to follow suit, because this isn’t a cookie cutter clone on our hands. With an unquestionably gothic core to their sound, this manages to straddle between a blackened guttural aggression and delicate female vocals on a bed of atmospheric synths; somewhere between ‘Epica’ and ‘Old Mans Child,’ this release four years in the making shows evidence of meticulous detail in its design.
A lot of this variation is down to the manner the instruments are performed, ignoring the genre guidelines and performing as they feel the piece requires. The guitars are given more than their fair share of standard tremolo riffs and the synths are often used for atmospheric backing, all as you might expect. Instead it is passages such as the neo-classical solo in ‘Hauntas Eternal,’ occasional industrial overtones from the drums, or the acoustic feel to ‘Vida Sacrificum’ not just from the guitars, but from the gentle violins and the classical piano work as well, all serving to demonstrate their ability to look outside of their own immediate style for inspiration – a practice which I wish far more bands would incorporate into their own work.
The entire albums composition flows almost as though a concept album telling a tale, at no point feeling repetitive or as though it is re-treading similar ground and it is the twin vocalists that play a pivotal part in creating this theatrical sense of tragedy rooted within the tracks. Deep voiced spoken parts emerge sparingly allowing the combination of bellowing growls and higher pitched barks to play off against the damsel in distress, who promptly succeeds in stealing the show. Whereas the growls often come across as incapable of the raw guttural tone, or the emphasis on the stark and harrowing desperation within the imagery, it is all the elegant vocals can do to pick up the slack. Capable of competing with the best; whether you take it as a good thing or not, everything is sung in English in a manner that you likely wouldn’t otherwise be able to determine their origins, such is her abilities to pronounce her vocal lines. That’s right, no ‘pigeon engrish’ or nonsensical sentences; apart from perhaps feeling a little impersonal they’re actually poetic, making use of powerful imagery in lines such as:
Grieving utopian dreams and hidden sins,
I hid behind the mask to shield my screams,
Decayed by the only crime of life”
My main complaint is not actually the composition itself - succeeding in combining a gothic/black framework with some wonderfully unconventional characteristics, the manner this is all worked together to provide something unique and yet coming across so naturally is more than impressive for a first effort - but sadly from the execution. Whether as a result of the production or not, it all too often comes across as flat and unenthusiastic, the more aggressive passages lacking any real bite, the guitars never really hitting home and the drums come across as all too mechanical. There isn’t the contrast between the more delicate gothic passages and the full on blackened fury begging to be felt resonating through the music, but if they got this right then we may well find a force to be reckoned with.
Highlights: Crestfallen, Hauntas Eternal, Reborn
This release can be ordered from their label, found here