I have several reasons to explain the reason of this review, even though it was release almost one year ago: the community behind this project, the specific content (‘one year after …’), and of course the Aural Art. I’ll briefly explain these elements.
First of all, the fellowship of this Iran-based musical family. I won’t go too deep into the history, but the Ardawasisht Kollektive was formed not that very long ago by Harpag Karnik, a musician from Persian soil. This sympathetic person is involved in more than one hand full of outfits, both solo as well as in partnership. The collective sort of gathers the different projects Harpag is involved with (amazing, for this guy is still very young [at least compared to my age]). However, in the meantime, other musicians (and projects) joined, and therefor the importance of this union grows importantly. I will come back to more outfits and releases in the future for sure!
A common idea of all ‘members’ involved is the Zoroastrian philosophy – or religion, if you want – which trespasses ideas and opinions of narrow-minded belief and religious oppression. The godly entity Ahura Mazda was sort of represented through seven entities, the Amesha Spenta, and Ardawasisht was one of them, representing honesty, truth, jurisdiction and probity. The emotional states of mind and the introspective opinions about righteousness and sublimity are like pillars to canalise these ideas. I guess this basement acts as spine for the whole ‘label’.
But it goes further, for the Ardawasisht Kollektive also tries to gather lesser known bands and projects from Iran which dwell within the darker corners of the sonic spectrum: from Dungeon Synth to Ambient, and from Atmospheric to Occult Black Metal. Forelunar is one of those entities that fits to description. It is one of the many outfits by founding member Harpag ‘Erancnoir’ Karnik, spawn onto this world as ‘a creature born out of necessity to illustrate love and romance, lust and limerence’.
Anyway, I was talking about three ‘reasons’ before, and here’s the second one: the concept. Beloved And A Thousand Seraphim is specifically dedicated to the current situation in Iran, and more specific the fanatic oppression of the women. Narrow-minded religious laws… No, I won’t go too deep into the matter. We’ve all seen, or read, about religious fanaticism against spiritual freedom. It is a very important issue on a worldwide scale, but what happens right now in a once-so-glorious country like Iran exceeds reason and ratio. I do not have the intention right here, right now, to start a semi-political manifest (Concreteweb is a site to support Sonic Supremacy; I am not trying to promote or destroy any political vision via this source [despite my in-depth conviction of certain themes and beliefs]), but from a personal point of view, this subject is another purpose to write about this specific release. Life and freedom for all human beings. Besides, it’s been a year that Iran, Persia, underwent a specific rebellion against narrow-minded and hypocrite ideologies after the (brutal) passing away of Mahsa Amina. Once again: no political indoctrination right here, but this one is for women, life and freedom!
The third motive, as referred to in my first paragraph, is the aural content. And here’s what my selfish ear-drums are craving for. Beloved And A Thousand Seraphim (aptly titled) consist of four hymns, clocking in between nine and twelve minutes. It comes with unusual yet remarkable artwork (so, apparently I am still not going to the audible content yet) by visual artist Mahshid Fayaz, which surely represents the message behind this conceptual album.
And then opened her eyes, she who was of lunar light, and in those shining rubies, I was drowned all night…
Beloved And A Thousand Seraphim lasts for forty minutes and represents a full-bodied, orchestral, bombastic and overwhelming form of raging and somehow emotional blasting Symphonic Black Metal. The overall feel gives a sense of fastness and intensity, mainly created by the energetic, even hyper-kinetic percussion salvos (I wonder whether it’s programmed or live-performed; the power makes me think about some programming, yet the atmosphere makes me dream of glorious self-recording). The whole blackened adventure, abyssal-deep and overwhelming in nature, gets surrounded by a monumental wall of dreamlike orchestration, caused by all-covering, keyboard-laden symphonies with a horrific and classical technique - even more (read: deeper, more intensive and represented) than ever before. That surely goes extremely well with the integer, tranquil, intimate excerpts, when sad tunes of piano or semi-sacral elegance pass by. It gives the whole a fine idea of equilibrium in between ethereal transcendence and furious intolerance. Opening track Vesper, for example, is a good example of this well-balanced approach (listen to that feedback towards the end, for example, followed by another outburst of frustration, anger and malcontent).
Also within ‘calmer’ passages, acoustic or semi-acoustic, the intensity of the message, of the concept, remains as intense and convincing. …and as magnificent and breath-taking. Despite the many up-tempo excerpts, Beloved And A Thousand Seraphim permanently translates an intention of harshness and intensity into emotion, introspection and reflexion, yet also rebellion and open-mindedness.
The timbre of Harpag’s voice does add an uplifted level of grandeur and glory to the whole aural adventure. His screams are quite rough and unpolished, subtly put on the background, yet still playing a prominent role within the whole story. They (the vocals) proclaim the well-thought, almost poetic messages, with delicacy and amenity, so well-supported by the additional choir-chants that appear throughout several characteristics. Echoing, untouchable, spiritual in essence and execution; the main screams overwhelm and intoxicate in an almost seductive form.
Actually, the whole balance – especially after a couple of listens – reveals such magnificent, almost divine presence: the leading synth melodies in interaction with the supportive percussions section, the low-tuned string-assistance and both the blackened screams and orchestral choral chants. The interaction of megalithic massive passages with the integrity of subtle, introvert passages, breaths a dynamism and, at the very same time, organic evidence, characterising the majestic representation of this Persian project.
Remember: all of us have the same blood running through out veins, men and women, religious people or non-believers, no matter the clothes we’re wearing (directed by society, religious fanatism, or own choices – damn, my intention to avoid any political opinion once again reaches a glorious level of sarcasm, I am afraid, hahaha)… Earth’s evolution is so much bigger than any narrow-minded oppressive institution… …so is the Sonic Supremacy of those who reflect and focus (with gratitude to Forelunar, in this specific case)…