2. BEYOND NIRVANA
3. ETERNAL DECAY
5. KUNDALINI EXPRESS
8. LOST CHORD OF THE SUN
The Merciful Nuns, brainchild of the enigmatic Artaud Seth, return with their ninth instalment of an epic journey through the pansophic traditions of sacred wisdom and knowledge: “A-U-M” continues to deliver a profound lyrical context against a backdrop of mesmerising soundscapes and carefully orchestrated containment of driven energy. This time the journey takes us into the realms of Eastern philosophy, a tour-de-force in the manner established fans of the band have grown accustomed to and will no doubt find their anticipation suitably serviced with “A-U-M”. With every album, the NUNS’ raise the bar further still and this latest opus is no exception. The album will appeal to the genuine seeker as well as casual listeners, the quality of the songs and their production is a given when we talk about the MERCIFUL NUNS, Artaud’s voice in all its facets revealing the scope of its power: soothing, teasing, imploring and chastising as the situations demands. Jawa’s bass work once again expertly arranged to deliver a powerful yet measured approach in setting the tempo, providing a solid and sound foundation for Jòn’s effective and intricate contribution on guitar – ever more assuming a unique and identifiable signature sound. Vocals, bass and guitars are arranged in perfect harmony and in support of each other; one never gets the impression of listening to three individals working together but rather a coordinated trinity at work.
A-U-M – transports the listener into the midst of a shamanistic ritual of the Far Eastern tradition. Close your eyes and embrace the steady drumbeat’s vibration, allow the soundscapes to envelop your senses to fully appreciate the power of A-U-M. Like the master of ceremonies that he is, Artaud delivers the instructions on the alignment for body, mind and spirit in his customary and concise manner, supported by restrained yet powerful bass and guitar lines in balanced harmony. BEYOND NIRVANA changes the atmosphere into a more driven – in your face – pace, introducing us to the salutations to Shiva the transformer, essentially commencing our journey towards alignment in a most effective manner; one feels compelled to move with the beat into an almost trance like state. ETERNAL DECAY offers an uplifting transition. Undoubtedly the song which will appeal to the broadest spectrum of listeners in quite a contradictory manner whereby Artaud magnificently elaborates on the most difficult and despairing aspects of the transformation process in a rather uplifting melodic setting, almost as if reinforcing his defiance against the prevailing conditions in certain anticipation of ultimate attainment. Next we embark on a fast paced journey into a world in service and supplication to the Fire God Agni with CREMATION, a powerful lament, interspersed with brief periods of respite before we are drawn back into the fast flowing currents and subsequently encounter the sleeping serpent of primal energy in KUNDALINI EXPRESS: slowing the tempo and restoring a more profound ambience, Jawa’s bass steadily supports the flow of Jòn’s guitar riffs in enhancement of the intended awakening of primal energy, all the while Artaud reminding us of the necessity to attain a state of meditative consciousness; a song that flows hauntingly like the constant current of a trance inducing dynamic. In DISCLOSURE we encounter Kali, goddess of time, creation and destruction and the demon Mara who personifies the forces antagonistic to enlightenment. A thought provoking song enticing the listener to inner contemplation and realisation. Accordingly, the sound exerts an almost subliminal effect in the background with Artaud’s voice grabbing the listener’s attention. A very astutely composed piece of music laced with a hidden dynamic that resonates beyond the perceptible. LIGHTWAVES reduces the tempo further still; Artaud’s voice goes into recital mode supported by an atmospheric soundscape in near ecclesiastical fashion – drawing the listener ever deeper into the transcendental experience. A homage to Mara in his association with death & rebirth, here we seem to reach the point of separation and transition into a higher form of consciousness. With the LOST CHORD OF THE SUN we reach awakening in an enlightened state of existence. A steady hum introduces the song as Jawa and Jòn set the rhythm for Artaud’s incantation of the A-U-M symbol at its most assertive and powerful. Closing a circle with neither beginning or end!
If, however, you are prepared to listen, contemplate and allow yourself to be carried along a journey of profound mystery or if you just want to indulge in awesome soundscapes and solid audio entertainment of quality songs throughout where lyrics and sound align in perfect harmony, then look no further, “A-U-M” delivers in abundance. A remarkably well conceived and executed production, probably MERCIFUL NUNS’s best album yet on multiple levels.