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Lamp of Murmuur > Punishment and Devotion > Reviews
Lamp of Murmuur - Punishment and Devotion

Punishment and Devotion - 80%

Heimir, August 15th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Death Prayer Records

What is there to say about Lamp of Murmuur that hasn't been said? Much ado has been made about the project's vicious and uncompromising vision, and more has been made recently about the gradually-increasing influence of goth rock and psychedelia on the sound, all culminating in the masterful Submission and Slavery LP.

I'm not interested in talking about any of that at the moment, because Punishment and Devotion (while framed as a sort of companion piece to that LP) takes a step back from these influences - or perhaps more accurately, just sidesteps them. It's not that this is a regression in sound, it's just a concerted effort to demonstrate progression toward different goals than Submission and Slavery had. I'm actually surprised at how straightforward EP opener "As My Pain Contorts in the Dionysiac Vortex" sounds for much of its runtime. There is a harmonized trem riff that appears around the six minute mark that seems to have loftier goals in mind, but the majority of the track is satisfied to exist as a pummeling burst of blast beats, vicious metal riffs and hoarsely howled vocals.

The riff that kicks off second track "Forever Bound to the Will of the Spectres" is similar in that regard, owing more to 80s thrash than anything from the corpse-painted 90s. That's not to say the BM riffs don't come out in time - they certainly do. But here they're simplistic and primitive, with only distant lead guitars retaining the band's atmospheric aural signature.

The only real misstep in my eyes is the CD exclusive, a cover of "Qual" by Xmal Deutschland. It's a good song, and I'm a big goth fan, but the cover's raw, metallic sound has the surprising effect of taking away from the obsessive mania of the original. The arrangement doesn't take any liberties other than the expected harsh vocals and distorted guitars, leading to a fairly uninspired rendition that just doesn't really belong on such a straightforward black metal record.

Still, that's a minor gripe for a solid EP - one which takes a much more bare-bones approach than could be expected, but works that into its strengths. Defying expectation has produced LoM's strongest work, and if Punishment and Devotion is any indication that trend is bound to continue.

Originally published in Vintermørke #1, minor edits made here for clarity and to correct typos