Carmentis by PostvortaRelease date: May 14, 2017
Label: Third I Rex
Carmentis is the second chapter of the cycle of birth trilogy by Italian post-metal/sludge band Postvorta. From the theme, to the music and track titles, everything about the first two chapters of this trilogy is heavy and beautifully complicated. The band takes the cycle of birth and expresses it in its most raw form; bringing the listener back to a time before the comforts of modern day medicine. If you want the ‘Hallmark’ version of the cycle of birth, this ain’t it.
I listened to this album from different viewpoints; I listened as a reviewer, as a mother and as a fan. Having given birth to two children, I found myself relating the album to my own experience vs one that might have been experienced in medieval times, for example. I found it to be a proper soundtrack, musically expressing the stages, feelings and natural bodily reactions to the whole process of birth. Where the first chapter centered on the epicenter, if you will, of the process, Carmentis centers on the after effects. I base this solely on the track titles. I will delve further into what I thought the track titles meant and how they related to the guts of the track in just a bit. Before I get into the meat of the album, I wanted to point out the length of time between the band’s recording of Æegeria and Carmentis. Æegeria was released on September 17, 2015 and Carmentis was released on May 14, 2017 via Third I Rex label (May 14th also happens to be a day where a few countries also celebrate Mother’s Day. Was that done purposefully? I don’t think so but I found that interesting nonetheless.) The time in between release really shows the growth of the band as a whole. I found Carmentis to be heavier and darker than its predecessor and where Æegeria felt more post-rock influenced, in its musical execution, this latest album was way more metal influenced.
I wanted to understand the meaning behind the track titles and without asking the band directly, I did a little research myself. The first track, ‘15’, in biblical terms, symbolizes a day of rest. I thought, if this was the band’s intention, it fit nicely with their theme and was a great start to the second chapter since the last track on Æegeria was ‘Placenta’. The track starts out atmospheric. Vocalist, Francesca Ghrol, begins a sort of chanting and the instrumentation paints a picture of a desolate, dark and submersed environment. It, along with all the tracks, lead perfectly into the next track.
‘Colostro’, refers to a form of milk, colostrum, that is rich in antibodies that usually comes in first. From my experience, it is difficult to produce and extract. For me, it represented a time of confusion, disappointment, pressure and pain. The track is an emotional one. It starts out slowly and ominously. The guitar work is slow and deliberate with a drone and faint cymbal washes in behind. The drums start full tilt and the song genuinely begins. As the track progresses from this slow and deliberate pace, it grows in intensity and I felt that my senses were wonderfully assaulted on all fronts. I felt as though I was in a wind tunnel and wished I could experience this whole album strapped in a wind tunnel having the music blasted as high as electronically possible. At the 7:05 mark the track shifts and opens the emotional flood gates and hits me with a wall of epic sound. The guitars sing a melodic lament and Nicola’s voice and hard-hitting drums just bring on the assault. The transitions in this track are amazing. At the 8:29 mark, the track gets even more heavy either making it soar to the heavens or hurl to the depths of hell. I love the synth in behind. The drumming on this album is incredible.
This track leads into ‘Cervice’. As we all know, the cervix, is a tunnel like passage that connects the uterus to the vagina. The band successfully create that atmosphere with their instrumentation. Being in between two volatile states, passing from one to another. The track is cathartic and the guitar and synth work really transform the track.
All the tracks, other than ’15’ and ‘13’, are epic tracks but ‘Patau’ is more so than the others. Blasting out of the gates with darkness and despair. While searching for the meaning of the word patau I came across some images that were heart breaking. Patau refers to a syndrome that is caused by a chromosomal abnormality. Again, this is just my own research into the translations of the track titles. However, if this was the band’s intention, they successfully translated the effects of patau into this track. If this track couldn’t get any darker, Mers Sumida of the New York based band, Black Table, joins Nicola on vocals. Her vocals are unbelievably animalistic and guttural, and when both Nicola and Mers come in together briefly, with her higher tone and his lower tone, it is quite powerful. The guitar work that introduces her vocals into the track are amazing and again, the drum work is phenomenal.
The track ends with ‘13’. It was written, recorded and performed by Tero Holopainen of the Finnish band Callisto. It is a stringed piece that is a bit off kilter in its execution; which makes it a perfect ending to a perfect album.
One thing I wished the band had provided were the lyrics to the tracks. I was able to make out a few of the words and that only left me really wanting to know what the rest of the lyrics were. I did manage to get the lyrics to their track, ‘Corion’ off of the Æegeria album. All I have to say is that Nicola Dona is a great lyricist. I look forward to the third and last chapter to this trilogy.