Heavy doom riffs, wailing clean vocals, menacing growls, sludge textures, black metal interludes, and dark acoustic folk guitar—what more could a girl want? Mur has delivered all of these eclectic elements into the six-track album Cut The Rivers Vein and I am here for it. Even more impressive than this combination and the music itself is the fact that it was all created by one individual. Cam Sather is the mastermind behind Mur and his latest release is a creative cumulation of heavy Romantic-era themes, quiet folk passages, hypnotic soundscapes, and head-banging metal dramatics.
The album opens with a simple, beautiful acoustic guitar melody before a low buzz electric guitar is introduced. The buzz builds and slowly takes over when haunting vocalizations and light drumming are added. Classic doom riffs with deep growls take over as the opener, “A Billet of Regret,” evolves and twists giving a perfect snapshot of what Mur does. The album progresses adding even more vocal variation as the following track “O’palesce” contains black metal distorted tremolo picking and a mix of deep growls and clean wistful vocals. Eventually this slows down to doom marching tempos and riffs.
“Lower Cloud” and the title track are right in the middle of Cut The Rivers Vein and span just over 11 minutes each. These two pieces contain beautiful folk progressions with harmonized clean vocals and acoustic arias. Funeral doom low and drawn-out harsh vocals are heard with hazy guitar and basslines as well as punctuating drumming. These may be my favorite tracks of the album as they move effortlessly between styles in a way that is not jarring or sharp. There are no seams as instrumentation transitions and unfolds. The following piece “A Powerful, Uneasy Feeling” brings in some dreamy guitar work exuding a more shoegaze vibe and sound. The album ends with the longest track, “Breach & Bitter” which, unsurprisingly based on the title and length, is doom driven and dark. The feel here is as though you are wandering and getting lost in a dense fog covered field.
Sather explains, “The vision for, and the writing process for this next Mur album has been an absurdist wind. Heavily influenced by Romantic-era ideas, existentialism, and the apocryphal, hellfire of William Blake’s word. Conquest and transformation. Plotting particle and light into wisdom and thought.” These songs offer a fitting soundtrack to the dynamic themes and inspirations from Blake. Each moment from beginning to end transforms leaving no room for boredom or staleness. Some passages are haunting while others are fiery evoking different emotions and thoughts along the way.
I am enamored with this album as it combines two of my favorite genres, doom metal and folk music. It is always impressive when one person’s passion project comes into fruition and Sather’s talent shines in each piece—every instrument, lyric, and composition. The ebb and flow of Cut The Rivers Vein reflects the themes of Blake’s idiosyncratic writings and shows how intentional every step of the creation of this album was. I had not heard of Mur prior to listening to this release but I am excited to dig through his discography and experience more of his music. I will also continue to spin Cut The Rivers Vein and enjoy the enticing headiness of the combination of instrumentation and styles it has to offer.