Now and again, you come across an album that you know will stick out from the rest. Something separates it from its peers—perhaps a traditional style that kindles memories of bands of a similar nature that you grew up with. It could also be a completely new sound or combination of styles that you have never heard before, amazing you with its unpredictability and ability to challenge itself and create something exciting and fresh. Maïeutiste firmly does both, fitting well into everything within the black metal genre I grew up with and loved while simultaneously bucking tradition and creating an album that is full of surprises and a mix of styles from ambient to doom metal. New things come to my attention with each listen, though part of me knew the first time I listened to this self-titled debut that it was an instant classic and an album that perfectly fits into the lineage of slightly similar bands that I have always enjoyed.
Things begin with a long and slightly winded introduction that created the illusion that this album was going to be something vastly different than what it ended up being, setting the atmospheric mood yet offering no indication of the brilliant ferocity and insane riffs I was about to encounter. With the second track, “…in the Mirror…,” this suddenly changed, and I instantly knew that this band was going to bring both the powerful riffs and creative songwriting that I desire. Alternating between fantastic classical guitar work, black metal, and various chants and melodic sections, this debut contains so many elements that I find pleasing it almost seems unreasonable. This is the kind of thing you would expect a long-time scene veteran to put out, but instead we are offered this treat by complete newcomers who have set a high standard for everyone to follow afterwards.
Tracks such as “Puragtorie” are far from filler, nor are they a simple break from the main concept. Instead, like many great bands, these chants and stunning guitar work are a part of the whole. This is a complete album in just one song fitting into the greater picture, creating something that is all too rare: an album that is fully thought out and realized. You can tell that this took five years to work on, and a part of me hopes the next one will too. So many sections left me breathless, both through beauty and vile attributes. When I say this is black metal, I mean it; the vocals are as grim and dark as any I have ever heard, and I cannot come to terms with how powerful the riffs are. Just listen to “The Fall” and you will hear everything you have ever loved in the style. Certain aspects are traditional and reminiscent of many others in the genre while simultaneously deceptive, implying that this is a band influenced more by classical or atmospheric rock. Another song is pure “black ‘n’ roll,” while a moment later, the jazz sections make one wonder just what is going on. Maïeutiste never gets too comfortable, yet all this is executed with style and grace. While many try to incorporate new elements to try to offer something different and only end up sounding awkward, this is done with confidence and a complete sense of power.
The quality of musicianship itself could be a page of rambling. I have already brought up the riffs, many which are some of the best I have ever heard in metal as a whole, but the solo work in “Absolution” is something you need to have access to just to show off to your friends. This band really utilizes its three guitarists while the bass carries the song on its back to allow a brief intermission before the onslaught begins again. All throughout, the drums do much more than merely add some speed or set a rhythm—both bass and drums are given space to add atmosphere and, at times, completely carry the music as the guitars respectfully bow out to let the other instruments take the helm. The vocals are a perfect grim snarl, clearly enunciated and intense while mixing a number of different styles that create various moods. There is also enough pure instrumentation that they don’t have to carry the music. The clean vocals that are utilized are strong; in particular, the sections of chants that make the heavier sections that much more powerful.
Over the last couple of months, I have listened to this album multiple times, and the excitement has retained through every listen. The one complaint people will have is that this is a very long album at well over an hour. While certain sections, from solos to saxophone, warrant exposing others or listening just to remember how enjoyable they are, they are all better served by just sitting down and listening to the album from start to finish. This is an album for people that think too much and need music, at least at times, with a little more substance that tells a story. The charcoal illustration on the cover and astronomy drawings within all add to the mystery that is Maïeutiste—a band that has come out with an album few of its peers will touch over the next few decades. Everything needed exists here, from instrumentation to song writing to creativity, and it will be a long time before I come across an album that was so profoundly moving, yet also highly enjoyable. This is musicianship of the highest caliber and will take you on a philosophical journey through the abyss and beyond the stars.
02) …in the Mirror…
03) Reflect / Disappear
05) The Fall
07) The Eye of Maieutic Art
08) Lifeless Visions
09) Death to Free Thinkers
11) Death to Socrates