Title: Shem Ha Mephorash
Label: Helter Skelter Productions
Release Date: 18 April 2019
Format reviewed: High Quality Digital Promo
The type of metal I enjoy the most is the one that you have to feel, no matter the type of emotion is most notable during the audition. Be it anguish, hatred, melancholy, happiness, this is the type of music I resonate the best with. This happens because most of the time I seek catharsis through this outlet. But there are a few, extremely rare occasions when an album spawns in my collection that is meant to be listened with the mind, one that will make you want to look deeper and deeper into its meaning, without letting feelings cloud your judgement. This is the type of release that will not give you instant gratification and only few will get to enjoy its true beauty, as most don’t have the patience to follow this path until the end. Such is the case with the Mephorash’s magnum opus, “Shem Ha Mephorash”.
Eight songs build this monolithic piece of art, that add up to a staggering 74 minutes of playtime. The album is an esoteric journey through the labyrinthine corridors of the Shem Ha Mephorash system, which is a term that would translate to “the explicit name”. This comes from the Kabbalistic teachings and refers to the true name of God, one which is hidden from the mere mortals. There are a few variants, but the one explored here is the 72-fold variant. This derives from a passage in the Bible, from Exodus 14:19-21, and through boustrophedonically reading (it is a two axis reading method) the 72 names are achieved, each composed of three letters. This supposedly happened because the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable name, was lost in time and now only the spelling is known, Yod (י), Heh (ה), Vav (ו), Heh (ה), but the name is devoid of vowel markings and so its pronunciation died along with the High Priests, as they were the ones that were allowed to utter the Holy Name. Speaking the Tetragrammaton by anyone other than the priests was considered a heresy. Each of the folds is associated with one of the 72 Shemhamephorash Angels from Kabbalistic literature and each of them governs a special attribute, and so the Shem Ha Mephorash is considered to have unimaginable powers, if used correctly. And trust me when I say I just scratched the surface of this arcane subject.
This release can be compared to entering a colossal gothic cathedral, as its scale is magnificent and everything is well placed, down to the last detail. To explore this edifice, a very long time is needed. I sat down with the album a significant amount of time, I read papers on the subject it explores, I even bought a few dictionaries of symbols to try and decipher the lyrics and I still feel like I know almost nothing about it. I don’t think I ever experienced an album so immersive.
The nature of the music is also, in a certain way, hidden. It is devotional without a doubt, but it’s ambivalent. It is overflowing with contrasts. It will journey you through light, but also darkness, it explores both life and death. All throughout it you will hear the trumpets of Heaven and Hell exclaiming Hallelujah so loud that the whole world trembles. So many elements have found their way into this songs, but everything is executed flawlessly so it never sounds crowded. Piano, church bells, chanting, choirs, strings, pipe organ, an immaculate woman voice, all these can be heard in this sonic architectural wonder. Even the typical elements are spotless. The drums keep a trudging pace, the guitars bring the acute tones that invoke a sense of an imminent Apocalypse and the vocal performance perfects the sermon aesthetic. Keeping a slower pace through everything also helps the religious evangelism note, but there can be found a few moments when everything erupts in a torrent of urgency.
Even if the album has eight separate tracks, they form a whole. None of the songs stop, but rather pour into one another by means of quiet transitions. Listening to them separately is like reading only one verse of a poem. You could enjoy it, but you are narrowing your vision, so I highly advise the listener to sit down and play it from beginning to end when he has the time to spare. Rush it and you will not find the awe inspiring beauty of this masterpiece.
As I said, everything is faultless, and that means the artwork too. The album cover that represents the King of Kings in his crimson robe, trampling on demonic creatures, uttering his words like a sword is nothing short of intriguing. I also got the honour of examining a digital version of the 20 page booklet that accompanies the album. The colours that were chosen, the font that was used, the enigmatic illustrations, all make me want to study and understand more.
“Shem Ha Mephorash”, besides a cathedral, could be seen as an ancient library, full of tomes and scrolls from forgotten times, hidden for millenniums from human gaze, now waiting to be opened again and I am ready to seal the doors shut and get lost between the vast, dusty shelves and acquire the knowledge of the 72 secrets that lay before me now and obtain the virtues of the Arbor Vitae. Sine Sole Sileo! 10/10 Metal Gentleman
10/10 Immortal Classic
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