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I Lurw It - 90%

FullMetalAttorney, June 27th, 2012

Heidens Hart recently submitted four records to me for review, and I decided to focus first on Murw's Kanker. Why? Because their name looks cool when I read it (although as it turns out, it just means "mellow"). The album art was also the most eye-catching of the bunch. Hey, I don't need a good reason.

Murw is a Dutch band that's been around for 15 years, but they've only released one split and a raft of demos. Kanker is their first full-length. From what I can gather, their previous work is generally lumped in with depressive black metal and atmospheric black metal. I don't have any idea what DBM is supposed to be, exactly (no one seems to know how to define it), and ABM tends to be boring. So I wasn't expecting a lot out of this one. I was very much surprised.

Given that I don't accept the DBM tag, I'm going to call Kanker black/doom metal. It's black metal played at a doomy pace, with death growl vocals, fully audible bass, and an overall depressing mood. But, as with all innovative music, it's not as simple as that. There's plenty of textural complexity and sonic experimentation, such as Opethian riffs and melodies, psychedelia, keyboards, bass-led sections, undistorted passages, and clean female vocals. And, take notice, it's produced perfectly.

All four songs are long, from seven and a half to almost twelve minutes. But with all of that dynamism, and melodies that will actually stick in your head, it doesn't get boring. On the contrary, it will keep you coming back for more. While the closing track is probably the weakest, if considered alone, I think that's the piece that makes the album such a rewarding listen. It's actually a little bit hopeful, so the record feels like a journey that you've made it through successfully. Or, at the very least, you haven't been completely broken.

The Verdict: Few debut full-lengths are this convincing, unique, and mature, but I suppose that's what happens when you spend well over a decade honing your craft.

originally written for

Excellent and authentic - 96%

Terry_Only, April 19th, 2012

Let no cover art mislead you, because music of this album has so much greater ability to create its own picture. Kanker translates as cancer, but don’t be scared, there were no links found between any form of cancer and music. In the contrary, this album may do as much creative job as much destruction and harm cancer may cause.

Compared to previous works, acoustic passages can be scarcely heard here (middle of De buitenstaander), but beautiful guitar solos can be heard here and there. The bulk of this album is massive, progressive and riffy. It incorporates unheard melodies and interesting accords. Slow and fast parts alternate timely and naturally. To say more about the slower parts, their viscosity clearly comes from death/doom. In general, this album is very different from previous works of Murw.

Elements of progressive death metal somehow fused here with black metal compartment creating authentic atmosphere, sound and, above all, harmony. Both growl and scream vocals are used in this album. Apart from expressing authenticity of the music and musicians’ thinking in terms of melodies and accords, Kanker also shows high skill level and reminds us that once they played death metal (back in the 90s).

Melodies and accords are not banal in musical terms. You won't hear something like that from the next black metal band. Looking back at previous works by Murw it is clear that they never tried to play “like” somebody and this album is not an exception. Neither Murw ever tried to sound the same from album to album (in terms of riffs and melodies). In other words, they never “re-played” themselves. I guess that the melodies of this album may not only come from general love toward music, but from everlasting creativeness inherent in most progressive death metal bands.

I understand, that at times we seek something general (especially fans 'ov' black metal), but this album is not something you’ve heard. Analogies can be drawn here and there, but they are weak and insignificant. If you never heard atmospheric black metal, this is not a general work of this genre, but authentic and creative work that must be interesting for everyone who values music as art.

As of the negative sides of Kanker, I wish there was more of it and I slightly miss the acoustic and raw atmosphere of the previous works. I’m sure, though, that now as Murw finally found appropriate label, they will create many more beautiful music.