Mire Exhumed is the kind of title you’d expect from a doom metal band. The music of Choral Hearse, a Berlin-based all-female doom metal act with experimental and folk leanings, is certainly drenched in pathos and doom. The four-piece’s sensibility is rooted somewhere between those poles, a sort of post-goth romanticism for the musical omnivorous, one where images of death and pain go hand in hand with blinding passions, and genres are explored in erratic fashion. Indeed, what’s striking about Mire Exhumed is how the band keeps expanding their musical palette over the course of ten tracks.
Recorded in Budapest and mixed and mastered in Berlin, Mire Exhumed sounds heavy, both sonically and lyrically, in the sense that it conjures up images of “oppressive” beauty, afterlife and unconsciousness with shamanic force. Although the emotional states Liaam Iman sings about are always too menacing and shaky to be trusted, she sounds more confident in letting these internal battles build up and eventually erupt.
Reportedly inspired by “restless spirits of hunted witches,” these ten songs could appeal to fans of metal, folk, and alternative rock in equal measure, bolstering the band’s cred as a crossover act.
The opening track “Chronic Departure” epitomises the punishing side of the record, interspersing Iman’ss brittle vocals with obsessive percussions and squelchy guitars. Through abrupt interchanges of quietness and distortion, “Confession” seamlessly combines the distilled sadness of the dirge with the over-the-top discharges of metal, all in the name of drama. By the time the lonely guitar of “A Hideous Revelation” enters the room accompanying the dissonant lament, we immediately reconnect with Choral Hearse’s introspective side, but instead of settling for a balladry of the comforting kind, the song soon morphs into a thickly textured tale of epic proportions.
In fact, while most of the tracks on the album showcase similar climactic structures, the subtlest variations are more than enough to enrich the overall feel of the record. The tonal upsurges and vocal dissonance of “An Abduction” create a hallucinatory suspense. Respite comes in the form of “Mutation” which registers as an alt-rock gem.
Mire Exhumed proves that there’s still much work to do in the dark side of alt rock. Choral Hearse are surely ahead of the curve.
Mire Exhumed is out on April 16. Follow Choral Hearse on Facebook.