Eremit return after their utterly triumphant debut, ‘Carrier of Weight’. I've listened to that EP several times, and it still transports me. ‘Desert of Ghouls’ is something of a follow-up to the story of our eponymous hermit, as we find him eventually reach the City of Râsh-il-nűm a full 12 years after the end of ‘Carrier of Weight’. Full disclosure; I only know this because I read about it online, as the lyrics aren't available on the version I have (they are in the booklet for the release version though). Eremit are fully dedicated to their story, and it'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds (I may be wrong, but I get the impression it may be non-linear over successive releases).
This EP is just two tracks, but still comes in at over 20 minutes long; Eremit are not afraid to meander on their ideas. Opener ‘Beheading the Innumerous’ crashes toward you with a clattering of drums before settling into the song's main groove. Eremit enjoy focussing on weaving around a singular musical theme on songs, and this is no exception. It helps provide a trance-like state that allows you to fully absorb the richness of the composition and, if you can fathom out the lyrics, a swirling vision of the story being told. The groove is amazingly focussed - all instruments locked into the same pocket - yet it also feels like a freeform jam. Tempos fluctuate and, just when you think the song might be in danger of outstaying its welcome, the groove changes at about the 6-minute mark into something still glacial, but positively brisk in context. This pace is then maintained toward the conclusion of the song. It's a catchy piece of sludge. The final song, ‘City of Râsh-il-nűm’, comes in slow with a melody not unlike those found on ‘Carrier of Weight’, further tying the two releases together. This hypnotic mystical musical mantra is held for just over 5 minutes before the band unleashes the song's main groove based on the opening melody, with what sounds like a phased guitar (to further enhance the feeling of being in an unknown Eastern city). 8 minutes in and the groove drops before the pace again picks up to a brisker tempo. (A bit more variety in the song arrangements might have served the band well on this 2-track release). There is, however, the faint echoes of a guitar solo in this section of the song, which is both rare and effective. The song ends at a loping pace, almost painfully on the brink of collapsing.
Eremit have once again released music that is hypnotic and conveys a strong story; even if, now, I'm not overly familiar with what is going on. Knowing what happened on the previous EP, and the song titles evoke a strong visual regardless. This is akin to modern psychedelia. Listened to without distraction, preferably on headphones, you can easily get lost in a kaleidoscope of images and feelings. Whether those images are aligned with the band's vision or concocted by your own imagination is irrelevant; Eremit make music that is to be absorbed and experienced in more than one medium.
DESERT OF GHOULS
Review by Steve Cowan
17th July 2020
1) Beheading the Innumerous
2) City of Râsh-il-nűm
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This is akin to modern psychedelia. Listened to without distraction, preferably on headphones, you can easily get lost in a kaleidoscope of images and feelings."