Italian artist, Damien, is the vocalist in black metal outfit, Comando Praetorio, but he also channels his introspections into the death-doom agony of Tetramorphe Impure. Combining his Dead Hopes EP and The Last Chains demo into one CD pressing for the first time, Solitude Productions present us with a record of four songs, totalling 45 minutes, all at the same tempo. That means that some of you will abandon this review here to avoid the anxious foreboding of fatigue and depression ahead. Take this reviewer’s advice: breathe up through your nostrils and release the oxygen through your mouth as if clocking the fifth mile on a ten-mile run. Tetramorphe Impure is an experience that might defeat you if you’re unprepared.
Opener, ‘Deception’, starts with nasty guitar distortion and heavenly keyboard notes that capture the melancholy sorrow of angels excommunicated from the pearly gates of eternal life. You know the next eleven minutes will be a solemn affair, and Tetramorphe Impure do not disappoint with reverb-heavy guitar arpeggios leading the way towards an avalanche of funeral doom. The vocals trickle out like an esophagus weighed down with caster oil, yet the words are intelligible and impassioned. ‘Dead Hopes’ creates an immediate Anathema/Tiamat vibe in the way Damien arranges his slow chord-picking with sparse keyboard atmospherics. Listen to those dyads on the higher strings as they ring out like soldiers expressing the pain of their cauterised wounds. Just one of these dissonant chords will make you grind your teeth together. This time we’re in My Dying Bride territory, and we even get a soliloquy that sounds like Aaron Stainthorpe from the days of Turn Loose the Swans. “Save me from myself/ I hate what I am,” roars Damien. His fellow Italians in Invernoir would be proud of this composition. Any arrangement that uses the earnest chime of a church bell to signal a change of tempo is worth thirteen minutes of your time if you can find the energy reserves to continue your journey.
For a demo, ‘The Last Chains’ is an impressive number. Gregorian chants enhance the power of the malevolent vocals, just as the clean guitar shapes of Lycia and Cocteau Twins juxtapose the crushing doom metal chords in the way a red lightbulb illuminates a dingy basement. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for end track, ‘Eternal Procession’. This is the moment where your ears start to close out the music as your mind wanders to more banal thoughts. It doesn’t help that the song starts like all the others with simple chord-picking and the same 60 bpm tempo. The merciless decibel levels buzzing through the guitar amps should focus your attention, but repeat listens only confirm your instincts – this is a slog. It feels like the eternal funeral procession for a distant relative you never met. You pay your respects at first but then wonder what excuses you can use to leave the wake early.
Tetramorphe Impure hope you’ll find the music challenging on a physical and emotional level. The chances are the former will overpower the latter experience, but this record has its uses. It liberates you from the relentless blast beats of every other artist on your playlist and provides the perfect soundtrack next time you undertake a long walk in the countryside in the scorching heat. Unfortunately, it might also be the catalyst for when you pass out with exhaustion.
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Record Label: Solitude Productions
Standout tracks: Deception, The Last Chains
Suggested Further Listening: My Dying Bride – A Map of all our Failures (2012), Invernoir – The Void and the Unbearable Loss (2020), Katharos XIII – Palindrome (2019)