I’d like to start this review with an excerpt from the bio. “Music is an obscure and ambiguous discipline, whose forms reflect in full light the mysteries of the soul. As most of the art forms, it deals with the paradox of the materialization of thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It reveals what is hidden, dives deep in the depths of mind, and brings back its ghosts to the surface for everyone to see.”
This is exactly what this French horde represents: a confrontation with our inner demons and our external enemies, which are causing fear, disgust, hatred and death. The band “seeks and evokes ghosts of times forgotten, horrors of a religious nature and the subsequent human fears and beliefs.” Throughout the years, as from the start of this decade, Mhönos translate their negative ideology via abyssal, asphyxiating sonic structures, which in its artistic form indeed can be called ‘Music’, as meant in the introducing biographic liner notes. This time it does not differ.
LXXXVII (meaning ‘87’ – I truly wonder what this number stands for) is a four-track creation, written once again especially by Frater Stéphane Gouby (also known from e.g. Sordide, Hyadningar, Mythrim a.o.), and recorded with Julien Bous at the Postghost Recordings Studio. It comes in an edition of 100 hand-numbered copies on tape (cf. Zanjeer Zani Productions), including a woven patch, and on compact disc too (via Dead Seed Productions) (both labels released Mhönos material in the past too).
The first track (all four of them are untitled, known as I up to IV, two on each side of the tape) starts quite promising. Tribal drums of doom are like invoking, introducing an occult ceremony, a gathering of vile creatures from beyond. Soon these drum patterns get spiced by ultra-heavy guitar riffs, slowly marching forward, and somewhat later by evil spells, grim voices from the Netherworlds. Like a monumental drone, those voices, drums and strings create an asphyxiating, ominous atmosphere, breath-taking and, at the same time, arousing in a masochistic way. It’s like an Akhenaten / Daemonium composition gently raped by Sunn O))), the earliest Unearthly Trance efforts brutally deconstructed and reconstructed by Empire Auriga, or some mostly oppressive and malignant, ugly and harsh new-born symbiosis of Maurice ‘Mories’ De Jong and Henrik ‘Nordvargr’ Björkk. It turns me on… As promising as the first piece started, the more intriguing, believe it or not, is the opening sequence for II. Down-tuned string lines, minimal and nihilistic, yet surely haunting, and some effects / sounds / samples, are nothing but a harbinger for a devastating experience, a colossal attack, once again based on the elements from the former track: slowly executed yet pounding strings, drum patterns that have both martial and ritual aspects, and grim, diabolic growls. Simplicity of the highest order! It expresses the essence of negativity through dark ambiental droning riffs and mechanical structures. Quite same goes for III, though the lengthy introduction of this creation is as frenzy in its minimalism as, well, some Necrosadik or Mekigah excerpts. This must be the soundtrack for a mass elimination as ritual sacrifice. Mercilessly, this piece goes on and on, building up, climbing up to explosive heights, leaving no room for escape or shelter. Excellent to notice is the last excerpt of this track, returning to a hypnotic essence of cryptic Dark Aural Art. Top. The first chapter of IV, eventually, opens with some monstrous sludgy Doom-Drone riffs and screeching guitar manipulation, before offering a gargantuan sonic spectacle of Ultra Black Drone Ambience. The second half is based on a dreamlike, mesmerizing droning pseudo-melody, less lethal yet at least as oppressing and tenebrous in atmosphere. It is a fabulous way to end this magnificent album with!
My conclusion is compact: top! Ulterior aural obscurity is an untouchable form, only for the bravest dark-minded souls, twisted yet simply majestic in its nihilistic essence!...