Silent Path-Mourner Portraits

Album Cover

Emotion is incredibly hard to convey; what we feel inside is intense and sometimes hard to express, even to someone that we trust. There is this nagging feeling that anything said is inadequate and invalidates the emotion that is churning inside of us because it’s simply not enough. Whether it be positive or negative, it can be incredibly debilitating and frustrating to try to convey these feelings. Silent Path have created an album that is the embodiment of despair and melancholy. It doesn’t present it to the listener as an offering; rather it throws them into a realm that reeks of suffering. Mourner Portraits paints a picture in ways that many people can’t even validate their emotions, and each reverb-drenched note tells far more than what seems possible. A dark and deafening atmosphere is used throughout the entire album and it surprisingly doesn’t sound contrived or overly dramatic, which is a common characteristic throughout the funeral doom genre. Saman Nu, the musical mind and only member of Silent Path, allows for no light to pervade the atmosphere. With that being said, the strength of Mourner Portraits is also its greatest downfall; the album is the very definition of inaccessible. There is no emotional payoff, nor any storybook ending that leaves the listener feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. One won’t look to this album to hear catchy riffs or standout vocals; the tracks bleed into one another and create a singular vision that doesn’t deviate from the opening distorted notes of “Empty Earth”. That is where the album also succeeds, however; the unique and abstract way that Nu uses atmosphere to continually return to the same oppressive notes gives it a continuity that is sorely missed in other albums of the genre.

Mourner Portraits also shows strength in creating an epic soundtrack for the eerie and sinister without stretching out songs to unbearable lengths. Too many times have listeners became bored with self-important bands releasing eighty-minute albums that contain only six or seven songs. Silent Path break the mold and utilize more conventional song lengths which allow the succinct nature to bolster the intrigue of the album as a whole. While some of the songs enter the eight minute range, there is never a feeling of prolonging a song for pretention; rather each part feels integral and natural to the end product. “Forgotten Sounds” blends a sound clip of calm rain with an incredibly eerie, almost carnival-sounding keyboard that isn’t stretched to exhaustion with its four minute length. It lingers just enough to punctuate the uneasiness before launching into “Sarabe Aramesh”, which is much more immediate and features some clean vocals that are par for the course in the doom metal genre, eventually including some powerful screams in the background. The desperate-sounding guitars stay consistent throughout the song, and the plodding pace allows for the depressive tone to reign supreme. Standout track “Epic Suicide” begins beautifully with a warning siren blending with a despondent clean toned-guitar line, building up to a heavily distorted reverb alongside an evil-sounding confessional from Nu. The entire track screams epic in an incredibly depressive tone, and is certainly the penultimate track here. Death-styled growls and higher register black metal rasps meet with the most hypnotic and accessible guitar riff available on the album, providing a perfect sample platter of everything that one should expect of Mourner Portraits. As the song winds down and fades out, there is a recording of a news reporter proclaiming Hitler is dead, which honestly does nothing but add to the dark nature of the album as a whole.

Silent Path have created an intensely dark, macabre affair with Mourner Portraits. It envelopes the listener in a bleak and monotonous world where there is no light to be found. There is no denying that Saman Nu has accomplished what he set out to do, and to those listeners that can find the beauteous and artistic voyage through the depressed soundscape, there is just this itch that cannot be satiated. I can only describe it as relating in some way to world that he has thrown listeners into, and the truth is that this piece of music may have the ability to speak of depression and hopelessness in a way that we cannot relay through conversations of our own. To anyone who has gone through something difficult in their lives, let this dark music be the torch that allows you to know that you are not alone in those deep waters; drown the world out with Mourner Portraits  and indulge in the brave new world Silent Path has created.

4.1/5

Tracklist:

1. Empty Earth

2. Filth of Mankind

3. Broken Trees

4. Last Men, Last Dreams

5. Forgotten Sounds

6. Sarabe Aramesh

7. Epic Suicide

8. Gray Dolls From Nowhere

9. Unwritten Story

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