Inspired by a dream, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a story called Celephais. The protagonist, a hobo named Kuranes, homesick for his native Cornwall, dreams up a port city called Celephais, which resembles his boyhood terrain. There is no perception of time in this dream city, so anyone leaving for years could return to find it unaltered. Some people feel that way about metal music. While far from perfect, I Am Kuranes, by the Atlanta drone-metal trio Celephais, is worth hearing. The opening bars of “Caparisoned” and “Dulled, Prosaic” bode well, but the crisp energy is not sustained. There are some intriguing sounds on here, sometimes an ecstatic or demented feeling lifts them above sludgy, rote-metal riffing, and the powerful economy of the musicianship is admirable.
Perhaps the biggest pity is that the vocals are buried in the mix—if the group is using the Lovecraft reference to convey the dangerous madness of wallowing in fake nostalgia, we will never know. The quieter pieces carry a threat but lack the (needed) contrast of a little joy. In that context, during “Trevor Towers”, the introduction of an acoustic guitar is as shocking as if we were briefly granted 3D hearing. There are a few such glimpses of nascent promise, but Celephais are some distance behind bands who have either broadened the palate or are erroneously termed metal: Jesu, Isis and Pelican come to mind (the latter also worth a mention for their incarnation as Tusk on the strange 2004 concept album, Tree of No Return). I’ll keep a keen eye on Celephais, though. They certainly don’t deserve the red light on this showing, but they don’t warrant the green one either. So, let’s say: I Am Kuranes: Yellow.
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// Notes from the Road
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