Murmur: Murmur

The Windy City unleashes a twisting, genre-defying assault

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Seemingly exhausting their musical allegiance to black metal with their 2010 debut album, Mainlining The Lugubrious – an album whose drug references and woozily hallucinogenic, urban-encrusted sprawl shared a fair few traits with near(ish)-neighbours Nachtmystium – Chicago’s Murmur have siphoned off all their experimental elements with the follow-up, and there isn’t a great deal here that can really be considered black metal, either in feel or musical language.

If anything, jazz seems a more prevalent influence, and combined with its abrasively metal character, the music here brings to mind acts such as Ephel Duath, though this is somewhat less twitchy and frantic in character. There are the same sorts of time changes, though, with loose, drawn-out passages, yelped vocals and some slightly haunting overtones to boot.

Throw in some post-metal progressiveness and almost narrative instrumental parts and you could almost cite Pelican or Russian Circles as well. Murmur is a curious beast and an intense and challenging one at times, but overall it’s worth the effort.