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jools green
Jools Green


'Emeritus' is the third full length from Chicago's progressive Blackened Death Metal band Arriver, and it follows in its predecessors footsteps, 2006s 'Vanlandingham And Zone' and 'Tsushima' in 2012 as a "conceptual book in music form", all with the same objective.

That objective is to discover hope amid hopelessness; from disaster, finding triumph, serving as a "sonic monument to the tragic anti-heroes and inexorable inanimate forces of real and re-imagined history", the source of inspiration this time around, the Chernobyl event of 1986 as the inflection point of its narrative.

The five track, thirty-nine minute offering is hugely complex and demands your full attention but if you give it you will find it a hugely varied and rewarding listen. It's such an interesting blend of styles and genres including rock, jazz, thrash and more besides. Each track is different in mood and delivery yet linked to the others by Arriver's own specific style of delivery.

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Each track covers an aspect of the Chernobyl disaster beginning with one of my favourites, 'Liquidators', which is haunting and punchy with an addictive repeat and snarling Death Metal vocal where you "follow the doomed Chernobyl fire fighters up the ladder, their commitment spurring them on in the face of their certain demise".

'The Demon Core' invites you to "witness the folly of human atomic carelessness" in a track that opens as an intense thrash offering before taking on a hypnotic but still frantic rock influence.

Doom-laden 'True Bypass' "recalls, minute-by-minute, the events of April 26th 1986, but although it plummets into heavy and doom rich depths laced with a snarling extended vocal delivery, there's something reflective about it, brought to fruition by the haunting lead work towards the close of the second half.


Another track that stood out was 'URSa', again haunting and punchy yet hypnotically looping with clean vocals, mostly delivered on the same monochrome level but rising with anger, adding great atmosphere alongside hypnotic swathes of lead work and low and loose closing bass lines.

This track seems to suggest a dismissive underplay of the situation by the authorities and sets the scene for the final narrative, 'Emeritus: The Zone Of Exclusion', a fourteen minute monster of a closing track which ebbs and flows between pummelling drums, jangling guitar work, crushingly heavy swathes laced with a gravelly vocal delivery and lighter hypnotic and reflective moments and "presents the band's re-telling of Chernobyl as magical realism. The despoliation of the land by man's folly is re-imagined as the moment of rebirth; establishing in a post-human landscape... a new Eden, awash in the glow of the sundered atom's rays."

Poignant considering how nature is slowly reclaiming the landscape around Chernobyl now that man has been driven out by his own negligence.

'Emeritus' was recorded over a period stretching through 2015-2016 at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Greg Norman. The recording was mastered by Bob Weston and is available in digital format or 12" vinyl on Scioto Records, definitely a recommended listen; 'Arriver' are a hugely talented and underrated band.





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