Australia’s Mesarthim shines through the void

“Absence” reflects curiosity, fear and ultimately awe of the universe.

Maxwell Heilman, Writer

Since astronomers began looking at the cosmos through telescopes of increasing power, the breathtaking phenomena they beheld have captured mankind’s imagination. Supernovas, nebulas and black holes represent cataclysmic events of unimaginable destructive power, yet watching them from a distance reveals their sublime beauty. The resulting dichotomy between majesty and obliteration observed in outer space has become a fixation of Australia’s Mesarthim.

Epic Celestial Fables

Named after the solar system at the bottom of the constellation Aries, Mesarthim’s brand of “Cosmic Atmospheric Black Metal” has earned them a place in the ranks of independent record label Avantgarde Music, along with a unique standing within the context of underground music as a whole. Considering this project only existed for a year, the attention it garnered speaks volumes about their stylistic and aesthetic choices. Having established their talent so quickly, the question surrounding Mesarthim’s second full-length album became whether it could top their debut. While “.- -… … . -. -.-. .” — Morse code for “Absence” — does not necessarily break new ground, its latent physical release further proves the vitality of the style introduced in “Isolate.”

Like its title, the songs on “Absence” translate to numbers one through six in Morse code, leaving the music to speak for itself. Mesarthim does not emphasize their own persona. Nor has the band provided lyrics, letting rapturous compositions tell epic celestial fables.

Frigid yet vivid

Evoking the the ionosphere in all of its terrifying glory, the two nameless members weave space odysseys with futuristic synthesizers and drearily spiteful black metal to a surprisingly natural tapestry of frigid nothingness and vivid color. Guitars often take a backseat as synthesizers take over modulative and melodic control of each song, while solid drums and wretched vocals hold everything together within a more familiar template. Synthesizers have made regular appearances in hard rock and metal music since their inception, but Mesarthim’s fearless use of the most nerdy elements of the instrument ends up sending their songs into an endless vacuum.

A paradoxical feeling persists throughout “Absence.” The most forbidding attributes of the final frontier certainly find prevalence in it; a sense of adventure and exploration almost always coincides with it. Moments of noticeable sway in one way or the other do make more obvious appearances, as observed in the full-on synth ambient interlude of “….-” and the low-end buzzsaw groove in the following track, but Mesarthim’s strength comes from how they integrate the elements of their sound into a passionate, sprawling journey of grand proportions. No matter how extreme the metal gets, well-constructed synth melodies with impeccable production keep the album rooted in victorious exploration in the face of the most harrowing shrieks and soul cleaving distortion.

Like a beam of light cascading through walls of dark matter, Mesarthim voyages into the greatest of unknowns. They acknowledge its terrifying vastness with throat shredding rasps and frigid tremolo picking lines while affirming its glorious wonder through shimmering synth pads and driving rhythm. “Absence” encapsulates the fear and awe humanity feels towards the outer reaches of the universe, securing the Australian duo’s place within underground music and the ongoing exploration of space.

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