It’s not too often that a band self-releases an album that embodies callous aching along with ghostly pleasure in such an impressive fashion, it’s almost touching. But such is the case for the Chicago, IL foursome Arctic Sleep and their 2006 majestic, Mare Vaporum.
A slough of slow-motion epics that are no more despondent than they are animated, the long-drawn, reverb-heavy songs on this Windy City quartet’s demo album are impious and mesmerizing. It’s as if the acidic mists of tracks like “We’ve Got a Bleeder,” “Arden’s Countryside,” and “Splitsville” are a mere overcast to a darkened heart beseeching to explode with energy. Maybe it’s in Keith D’s low key growls, snarls that come off stifled by questionable vulnerability. Or maybe it’s in the obtrusive and tortuous pulses smashed forth by Mike G’s ominous guitar chugging and Keith D’s own baleful drum pounds that cause the songs to collide in such a hypnotic, methodical manner.
Either way, Mare Vaporum is an ambitious, wooly stupefaction of the battle between good and evil in every human being that is meant to be felt, not just heard.