Czech Black Metal outfit Somniate return with the follow-up to 2020’s The Meyrinkian Slumber with their second full-length studio offering, We Have Proved Death. Once again, it’s a very esoteric and deep-thinking offering.
Somniate – We Have Proved Death (Lavadome Productions)
Release Date: 14 July 2023
Words: Jools Green
The Meyrinkian Slumber was inspired by The Golem by Gustav Meyrink, which is set in the 1900s. This time they look to the future for inspiration in the shape of the unearthly beauty and earthly terror of the future, inspired by the short American postmodern post-apocalyptic novel, In Watermelon Sugar.
A naively styled, bizarre, short read, In Watermelon Sugar, was written by Richard G. Brautigan back in 1964. It is a “story from a world where the sun shines a different colour every day, a world about which nobody is sure whether it ended for good or was born anew. A quiet community, undisturbed by the former matters of modern man, thriving in nature yet in the shadow of an old civilisation.
“A city once swallowed by the apocalypse. Unconditional happiness or insanity? Peace or lethargy? Stillness or death? There are men who revel in love and compassion, and there are those who drink the bodies of the dead. Their paths are bound to collide.”
In contrast to the book, this album is lyrically very sophisticated. Somniate have “captured the essence of what remained unsaid, again fusing magical realism with the black art.”
The popular consensus amongst academics regarding the book is that it is a work of utopian literature, a vista of the good life and glorification of peace, whereas Somniate has read between the lines and revealed a darker dystopian side. Having read In Watermelon Sugar myself, I can see, understand and like their darker viewpoint, which also makes great content for a Black Metal album.
Like the book, We Have Proved Death is a comparatively short, six tracks, spanning a compact thirty-two minutes. Not only is it a dark rollercoaster ride of an album, but it’s also a quality-over-quantity listen too.
Somniate’s darker viewpoint reflects immediately with the dark unnerving intro to I Am Here And You Are Distant, which builds with menace and suspense, ebbing back to allow for the sinister spoken element to emerge. These have a slightly psychedelic but menacing edge to the delivery culminating in a tormented scream and deranged laugh.
From here on, the pace quickens, the mood darkens, and the vocal delivery moves to a more deranged one, rather how I would imagine a nameless person dwelling in a post-apocalyptic landscape would react, rather than the calmer idealistic way the book, on the surface, portrays.
On A Lamb At False Dawn, an undulating tremolo picked repeat is impactfully punctuated with single low long guitar notes. With unrelenting drum rhythms reflecting the repeat and the low, harsh vocals echoed by higher deranged screams, the riffs develop a dark urgency, fading away midway through the second half to a haunting, eerie soundscape.
They reemerge in the intense, ominous opening riffs of The Statue Of Mirrors, which is also one of the best parts of the book, where the nameless narrator sees a vision of the suicide of one of the iDEATH inhabitants.
There is a dark, ominous opener that quickly develops brutal angst and intensity, with waves of driving riffs ebbing and building, roaring deep vocals, spoken elements alongside more tortuous screamed vocals over an undulating bittersweet dark but melodic element with closing, soaring, sharp leadwork.
This fades seamlessly into the eerie opener of Black Soundless Sugar, where reflective, clean leads, simple drum beats, and clean bass lines build into intense riffing. It has an otherworldly feel, and the innovative use of the mouth harp adds an extra eerie dimension to the track.
Non-You opens on a deranged scream and is as musically complex as it is intense and driving. The direction switching and pace changes are repeatedly executed with precision, quite a feat on a seven-minute sensory assault of this magnitude.
The frantic conclusion to the album, the two-and-a-half minute We Have Proved Death, reflects superbly the brutal conclusion to the book, but far more expressively and powerfully than the book ever manages. The book, in many ways, waters down the mass suicides of the dwellers of the Forgotten Works when they arrive at iDEATH. Somniate address this issue magnificently in an intense onslaught of riffs and brutal vocals delivered with angry passion.
We Have Proved Death is a superb listen from end to end. It’s intensely riveting, powerful and engaging.
The tracks were mixed and mastered by V. Santura (of Triptykon, Dark Fortress). It will be available as a CD or digital download from: