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Hierophant : The Tome



It started with Hierophant back in the 90's because that was when Xathagorra Mlandroth (as he calls himself) began to compose the inhuman melodies found on this compilation. He later discontinued this project and started a new one called Catacombs through which he still excercises his gloomy art. Well, at least he announced a new Catacombs album in 2012 (it is December 2013 when I'm writing this) and thus it seems as if that project is still alive despite a seven year hiatus. But no matter the current activities, it was with the tree EP's gathered in 'The Tome' that it all began.

It seems unavoidable that the word 'darkness' has to be included when attempting to describe the sound of Hierophant. I have already sated my curiosity when it comes to finding alternative descriptions of it, but I found none besides the obvious choice of using synonyms. Darkness is the very soul of Hierophant, and so by describing its darkness I feel I can get to its very essence.

Let us begin in 1994 when the self-titled Ep came out. It is a few seconds short of 12 minutes in duration, which isn't much for an EP, but the darkness contained on it was already utterly engulfing. It is a crawling monotony where fuzzed guitars repeat a thick, dominating riffage which oozes of ill will, and where rumbling growls resonate like communications from an ancient deity of malevolence. But that which does most to add to the feeling of dasrkness are the sparse notes from a keyboard based piano imitation; I would compare its effect to that of a small light in the utter darkness, the little glow that by it's minimalistic contrast creates a loneliness in the endless sea of lightlessness.

'The Weight of Winter' begins with re-recordings (or re-masterings) of the two tracks from the first EP. On these tracks you can hear a progress in the sence that the piano now sounds much more authentic and the music has deepened a notch, nevertheless these changes were hardly striking. In other words, these tracks are relatively unaltered yet slightly improved. This EP also has a third track, the thirteen minute long 'The Weight of Winter', which is a major step forward for Hierophant. The music is slower, deeper, and with a guitar-based ambience that emphasises the darkness akin to what the piano did. It is the ambience which makes the most difference and it alone changes the atmosphere from loneliness to a lethargic hopelessness in which even movement seems pointless.

As expected, the third EP followed in the path which 'The Weight of Winter' carved; a path which is led by its ambience, into an apathy which at this point drags the soul to the very border of nihil. The thundering growls and sluggish, fuzzed riffage has barely changed since the first EP, yet the music as a whole has gone from one kind of darkness to another, from latent evil and lingering death to the true nothingness. And this is the most prominent symbolisms of darkness; on one end darkness is connected to the unknown and harmful, that which is to be feared, on the other end darkness is connected to the absence of existence. The pages of 'The Tome' lead only from darkness to darkness and it is clear that nothing else could ever exist within its cover.

This compilation shows to me the capability which lies in funeral doom. These three EP's harbor a perfection of the genre and also epithomises it. They have had a strong impact on a large part of the funeral doom scene, as well as other doom scenes. I would claim that they are simply classics in the most purposeful meaning of the word: They seem to be a mandatory experience for anyone who truly delves into the subgenre, and that goes even if you should end up disliking them.


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Reviewer's rating: 10/10

Information

Tracklist :
EP - 1994:
1. Forever Dying
2. Where No Light Hath Shone... (But For That of the Moon)

"The Weight of Winter" - 1996 (re-mastered +):
3. Forever Dying
4. Where No Light Hath Shone... (But For That of the Moon)
5. The Weight of Winter

"Autumn Dusk" - 2000:
6. From the Dust of Graves
7. Ancient Moonlight
8. Shades Of Aqueous Essence

Duration : Approx. 67 minutes

Visit the Hierophant bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-01-09 by Arnstein H. Pettersen
Vestige Of Virtue
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