Written by Kep
Eremit – Bearer of Many Names
Doom/sludge metal from Germany
Releasing June 11 via Transcending Obscurity Records
I’ve been sitting on Eremit’s Bearer of Many Names for well over a month now, trying to wrap my head around what I want to say about it. Not because it’s bad—far from it—but because Eremit’s approach to songwriting pushes the listener’s patience and endurance to the limit, albeit with extremely worthwhile results.
Hailing from Germany, Eremit is a three-piece doomsludge outfit, and far from a traditional one. Moritz Fabian handles vocals, and he and Pascal Sommer both serve as guitarists, while Marco Baecker sits behind the kit. You’ll notice that the lineup doesn’t include a bassist, and that’s not because they use sessions musicians; the band just doesn’t have a bass. That’s not crazy or anything—after all, Pig Destroyer demolished worlds without a bassist for years, and funeral doom leviathans Oak don’t use one either—but the sound that Eremit produces without a bassist is a real marvel.
The band makes music that is, at times, astoundingly heavy. It’s weighty enough to rattle windows. We’re talking a mountain’s worth of rock heavy. Planet heavy. Black hole heavy. The band may not have a bassist, but my ears have an insanely hard time reconciling that with the mammoth bottom end on Bearer. But there’s more than just heaviness: Eremit can also be ruminative, and meditative, and restful. They weave these two approaches together into lengthy, sludgy doom tracks, and those vast tracks transport you to another world. It’s not the kind of listening that you can just sit and digest quickly and easily. This is broad, sweeping music, and it asks a lot of the listener.
Now I said the tracks were lengthy, but that doesn’t quite do justice to the songs that make up Bearer of Many Names; each track is more like an epic voyage. The album has three, and they comprise a total of over 66 minutes. Opener “Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness” is very nearly a half-hour by itself, and second and third tracks “Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artifact” and “Unmapped Territories of Clans without Names” are over 18 minutes each. It’s clear that Eremit doesn’t do anything half-assed; it’s go big or don’t go at all. Their lyrical content all pertains to their own created universe of fantasy and larger-than-life myth, and each song takes us on a prolonged expedition deep into their realm. It’s fantastically immersive.
Here’s the other thing you’ll notice as you listen to Bearer of Many Names: these guys do a *lot* with a relatively small amount of base material. “Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness”—all 29+ minutes of it—is built nearly entirely on a single riff motif. It’s a damn good riff, objectively speaking, but even the world’s greatest riff would be stretched to its absolute limit when asked to carry a song for half an hour. And so Eremit changes its tempo, and adds contemplative melodies to it, and changes the tempo again, and strips the riff down to its more basic elements, and changes the tempo even more, sometimes playing these variations with a calm serenity and other times crushing bones with weighty bulk. The song journeys through a meditative instrumental opening of 6+ minutes to one of the loudest, most colossal passages I’ve ever heard when the vocals first appear; it’s so huge and the wall of distortion is so massive that it takes some real listening to catch the riff in it, tremolo-picked at first (I think?) and frantic. Fabian’s snarling screams cut nicely over the sludgy muck beneath, but those snarls aren’t all he offers: a bit over 16 minutes in he delivers cavernous stygian death growls, ominous and robust. A downshift in tempo then leads to a quiet interlude of solo guitar, introducing a new, simpler wrinkle to the riff motif at 19+ minutes that carries the track’s final 10 with varied deliveries.
Second track “Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artifact” is similarly built on a single riff motif, introduced with a nostalgic melody in solo guitar and shaking the earth later. The ultimate iteration of this motif is introduced with a jazzy swing during a quiet interlude not quite halfway into the song, but when the full band roars through it, it’s square and dense. Closer “Unmapped Territories of Clans without Names” makes use of a primal rhythmic undercurrent that presses and pushes forward from beneath long guitar melodies. The underrhythm later joins with the guitars in a memorable headbanger of a riff, and the back end of the song uses a thick-toned, distorted melody to move towards its funeral doom-esque close.
I’d be willing to bet that most reviews will knock Bearer for its “repetitive” use of riff motifs—most did for Carrier of Weight, Eremit’s 2018 debut—but I’m sitting squarely in the opposite camp. They’re masters at variation and expansion, as well as slow-burning builds that have immensely satisfying payoffs. I also think that Bearer is a noticeable improvement from Carrier; Eremit just does more here, and they do it better than they did before. Additionally, Roland Wiegner deserves major credit for his recording/mixing/mastering job, helping create a substantial, devastating sound that is basically unequaled. I do think that the record’s overall length is a difficult one, though, and it’ll be enough to keep some listeners from getting on board. I also wish I had an idea what they’re saying, so that I could dig into the mythos of their created world—bands, include lyrics in your promo packs!
All in all though, I highly recommend giving Bearer of Many Names a listen when it releases on June 11 via Transcending Obscurity. It won’t be a listen you soon forget; Eremit left a real impression on me with this one, and I bet they’ll do the same for you.
Favorite track: “Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness”