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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Conception Superpost, Part 3: In Your Multitude

Earth is...earth: grounded, primal, solid--earthy. In elemental terms it is associated with the human body and basic, material needs; some of its attributes are strength, heaviness, and fertility. In many myth systems earth is linked with the feminine, especially as it is associated with sensuality, shelter, and abundance. In Your Multitude is a sprawl of an album, as vast and dense as the globe and grounded in an overall heavier rhythm and theme than its predecessors, its robust heartbeat felt most powerfully through that essential primeval instrument, the drum.

"Under A Mourning Star" is an explosive first track sung in the voice of the Son of the Morning, here cast in terms which also call to mind an older, chthonic god: Hades, the "black horizon" and the king of shades. The drumbeat is almost industrial, a metallic klaxon which propels the song and demands attention. "Missionary Man" recalls a theme from a previous album, that of the false prophet; here the preacher takes
the image of an all-sheltering savior and corrupts it, the promised land becoming a hell of sacrificed souls. Earth's association with death is first approached in "Retrospect," as the narrator sees himself taken to the cold country where nothing can live and mourns the loss of the "healing hand" which only those alive can wield. Furthermore, he sees the ultimate frustration of existence--that "the world will go on" without him, a desolate keening of powerlessness before something greater and more eternal. "Guilt" is a doomy, dense, and thoroughly depressing track of downtrodden soil and souls compressed...possibly the term "mundane" in its purest sense is fitting for this song, as the narrator warns that vivid dreams seldom last. The eponymous "Sanctuary" is a cave deep within the earth's womb, where light never reaches--so easy to hide, to fall back on familiar things. The song speaks of never attaining the treasure at "rainbow's end" and becoming color-blind, enshrouded in old skin and nurtured fears. And then comes the shattering complexity of "A Million Gods: a guitar solo isn't enough for this song; only a multi-instrument duel will do, and in a way that middle portion is reflective not only of the lyrical content but of the album's ambitions as well. The millions gods are not divine, indeed they, like most of mythology's deities, are downright earthly--petty, cruel, ambitious, domineering, and insecure. The song really puts the point home with its chorus, which proclaims that "you're the only god who's visible tonight" (emphasis mine).

Album cover

"Some Wounds" picks up the pace with a musically and lyrically surreal track about the battle scars we carry, weighing those ancient wounds against the material glory we earn for ourselves. "Carnal Comprehension" takes stalker anthems to a whole new level; in this case, the Devil (or maybe God) is your stalker, the black dog on your shoulder, and the entirety of the earth and sky is his playground as he compels the listener to give in to base fear, hatred, and lust. A juxtaposition appears in the next track, "Solar Serpent," between the heavenly body of the sun and the earthly body of the serpent; this carries into a metaphor of a person caught between high ideals and crude surroundings. The song could be interpreted as a metaphor for Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec deity whose name means "feathered serpent," and that deity's dual nature writ large onto humanity. The album's title track is its swan song, an elegiac glimpse into what would come next in Conception's career. The narrator of "In Your Multitude" mourns opportunities and loves lost--the world drags him down to mundanity, dreams unfulfilled, without the presence of the one he loves.

Arve Heimdal, Conception's drummer par excellence, seriously shines on this album. The intricate drum soloing in "A Million Gods," the furious, artfully off-kilter beat of "Under A Mourning Star," and the rolling earthquake of "Solar Serpent" cement his status as one of prog metal's premier drummers. Each track on the album contributes to the vast sonic experience of In Your Multitude as both remote and urgent, a densely transcendent masterpiece.

Must-listen tracks: "A Million Gods," "Carnal Comphrension."

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