Incepted late 2009 as the “only legitimate successor” of Garden Of Delight, Merciful Nuns quickly build a solid and faithful fanbase with their dark and gloomy, modern day version of goth rock or “occult post goth”, as they like to describe it themselves.
Their first release came in march 2010 and now, just under 6 years later, we’re already up to album number 8. That is, if you don’t take into account the numerous ep’s, singles or live albums. Overall this is release number 19 on their very own Solar Lodge label.A label that also hosts, amongst others, Whispers In The Shadows and Aeon Sable.
But now back to Thelema VIII.
Based on a book written by occultist Aleister Crowley, The Book Of Law or Liber Al Vel Legis, a complete philosophy unfolds based on just two phrases : “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and “Love is the law, love under will”, in which Thelema is the Greek for “Will”. Love Under Will … anyone? Anyway, This is by far the best album Merciful Nuns have released since their birth. As a full album that is, because they have released better songs in the past, but in the case of Thelema it all comes together.
The album opens with what is in my opinion the best song on it : Dystopia. A medium based, guitar driven tale about freedom and the lack of it. Artaud’s voice perfectly blends with the music and although this song lasts over 6 minutes, i played it like 3 or 4 times in repeat mode.
The second one is the single The Alseeing Eye. When i first heard it, it reminded me a lot about early Mission songs. This is definitively not a bad thing and the song itself is probably the most melodic one they’ve ever written. But I really don’t understand as to why the Nuns turned this one into a single and thus the bill board for the album. I think i mainly have a problem with the lyrics. Artaud wants to tell to much and forces his voice in the higher range, what is to my liking not his strongest point.
Next in line are The Aeons and Red Flame. The Aeons being a ballad like song unlike everything they’ve ever written before but yet again it all comes together and makes you yearn for more (repeat times 2). Red Flame is a fast based typical Nuns song, nothing new here but they are so good at doing what they’re doing. The bass dictates the law and both drum and vocals try to keep up, whilst the guitar tells his own story.
What’s also obvious about this album is that is it kind of written as a vinyl album. Songs 1 to 4 on side A, displaying the overall picture and some features. Songs 5 to 8 on side B, offering a more in depth perspective in the “why and how” and the motivations of the artist.
L.V.X., In Silence and The Law reminded me a lot about the project he did recently with Ashley Dayour of Whispers In The Shadow fame, entitled Near Earth Orbit. Very dark soundscapes about a world to end and our resurrection as enlighted beings.
The last songs, album title Thelema, is another highlight. Bass driven and over 6 minutes long but yet again they manage to pull it off. This song has a definite post punk/deathrock feel to it without becoming cliche.
Overall this is the best Nuns album yet and the only letdown for me is the bad choice for a single. The Nuns reinvented themselves musically and this gives them a broad perspective for future releases. An album definitively worth buying and if you go for the “minor pack”, not only do you get the album in deluxe digi pack edition, you also get the exclusive single Allseeing Eye, a band logo patch and an exclusive t-shirt.
Sweat dreams my fellow darklings … ► by Damien Thorn