Promethean Misery

Album Title: 
Tied Up With Strings
Release Date: 
Friday, September 21, 2018
Review Type: 

Despite all melancholy and tristesse involved – see further – it is a pleasure to experience the Dark Aural Art created by an Australian woman, named Samantha Kempster. You might know her from her activities in (sadly defunct) Sydney-based Atmospheric Doom-Death act Myraeth (one of the better acts in their specific genre from Down Under, but unfortunately inactive since a couple of years). She has been working as well with bands like Rise Of Avernus or Inclemency, being a guest / session member on viola and / or violin. And apparently she’s part of the renewed line-up of (legendary, who knows) Death Metal horde Cruciform (apparently they arose from oblivion a couple of years ago). But forget about this, for I want to welcome Promethean Misery, which is the solo-outfit of Samantha for a couple of years.

Under this moniker, Promethean Misery debuted with the self-released and self-produced recording Before My Eyes (Summer 2016; based on piano and vocals especially), and about one year later, there was another EP, a single-tracker (yet quite lengthy for being one piece, also with percussions and violin), called Bloodlet. Shortly after, the first full length, Ghosts, was released via PRC Music from Canada, and now the very same label is so kind to offer the audience the sophomore full length studio album, Tied Up With Strings.

This newest album gets released on compact disc in an edition of 500 copies, which includes a fold-out six-page booklet, and on the project’s Bandcamp-page you can find the digital version. Everything (lyrics and music) was written and performed / recorded by Samantha, who took care of the production, mix and engineering as well, and who co-operated to finish the artwork. Indeed this is meant to be a very personal solo-project. The album consists of seven titles, clocking all together more than an hour.

Tied Up With Strings has become a gargantuan epic of depression, despair, woe, melancholy, sadness and anxiety (not of the suicidal or masochistic kind, yet rather seen from a spiritual opinion), yet with some anger and disgust too (!). It does not bring ‘Doom Metal’ as in ‘Doom Metal’, for the use of (electric) guitars has been substituted heavily by other instruments – instruments that are actually not that unusual within the scene; yet here it is remarkable, for it paints the basement for this sonic journey. It surely shows the grandiose equilibrium in between integrity and extraversion!

The melodies are based on somewhat distorted, little harsh synth-alike melodies in the first place, created by electric violin and viola. Many layers act in an organic symbiosis, with different directions and ideas: sometimes gloomy or eerie, then again rather floating and mesmerizing, or bombastic, heavy, overwhelming and asphyxiating. It is fantastic to notice such diversity, caused by violin and viola alone. These ones get accompanied by perfectly played drums (or is drum programming?), which lack of adventurous excitement – but that’s totally unnecessary here. Furthermore, the piano is represented once again, adding a level of deep self-consciousness when present. And then you have the voice of Samantha, which is not of the soprano-kind, yet rather warm, velvety. There is that necessary variation in her vocal timbre, and more than once dual vocal play takes over, but the main chants are of the floaty and little bewitching kind. A huge dose of emotions, not fake yet honest and rich…

In general, the whole often reminds me to Avrigus, and hey, isn’t that an act from Australia too, coincidently…? Actually, vocal-wise too, Samantha’s timbre is comparable to Judy Chiara’s one (the former singer of Avrigus), though a link to Lycanthia or Mandy Andresen might not seem that strange either. More ‘worldwide’, I surely can refer to the likes of Remembrance, Lethian Dreams, Omit, or some of the projects that involve Lauri-Ann Haus (like Todesbonden or, especially, Rain Fell Within).

The craziest thing is that Promethean Misery do differ from ‘the usual’ or ‘the expected’, yet at the same time it sounds so familiar. This stuff surely represents the dark-faced edge of Doom Music, and it comes so close to funereal and melancholic Doom Metal, yet still it represents something refreshing (I detest this word, ‘refreshing’, but in this case it is meant to be a positive [damn, ‘positive’ isn’t in my preferred vocabulary either…) element. Tied Up With Strings offers a bleak, obscure vision that is both familiar and, at the same time, border-crossing, but for sure it does caress any Doom fan’s eardrums. It is as heavy and overwhelming as a guitar-based band, and as intriguing and oppressive as any funereal and abyssal-atmospheric entity that’s worth being mentioned.

Oh yes, in a near future, Promethean Misery will release a split with Illimitable Dolor, another act from the New South Wales district. I do look forward to hearing more of this unhappiness (which makes me, in a sense, quite happy…).