“What if life did not originate on Earth?” A profound question to open MERCIFUL NUNS’s 11th album with the ominous title: KVLTAN. Artaud Seth, creative head, mentor and visionary behind the band takes us on a journey to the onset of human civilisation, the origins of all earthly existence. Why do we exist? Where do we come from? What was or could be the “missing link” between a simple, indigenous life and the sudden appearance of the first High Cultures in Mesopotamia? Why is it indeed that almost all subsequent world religions came about entirely independent from one another and without any conceivable connection between them by virtue of direct intervention from “Gods that came from the skies”, i.e. from outer space? And why are we so fixated on the notion that intelligent life originated here on Earth? What irrefutable evidence do we have in support of the certainty by which this theory is being peddled as fact? The key to finding the answers resides in asking the right questions!
“Shaman elders speak of beings from the stars
From the marble towers they sing of lost Kvltan.” Artaud Seth
KVLTAN is a truly remarkable album that will stay with you, and whilst any album review is subjective, reflecting the reviewer’s own perception and preferences; it would be difficult to argue against the assertion that this is Artaud’s strongest material to date – exceptional in its conception, arrangement and execution; every element carefully considered and inserted in its designated place in order to maximise the desired effect. From the outset he takes the listener on a journey that leaves no doubt that MERCIFUL NUNS’s return is more akin to a rebirth in a new dimension. Ever the perfectionist, Artaud took his art to a new level; every nuance deliberate, meaningful, complementing the rhythm and dynamic of the songs as they flow from one into another; retaining a cohesive structure that stimulates the senses by invoking archetypal imagery which elevates this album to an actual experience, he taps into realms of the unconscious that resonate deep within. Atmospheric echoes introduce KVLTAN, whispering contemplations interrupted by a singular guitar riff. Artaud asks one of the most fundamental questions of our time with fervor and urgency, a powerful promise for the future. The pace accelerates and reveals a powerful and true goth anthem: KVLTAN: THE ORIGIN. Seamlessly we are being led into calmer waters once more, accompanied by a slow, simple riff which permeates through the entire song ALTERED STATES, offering the kind of assurance one would gain from Ariadne’s thread whilst traversing a labyrinth. Surrounded by ghostly voices we enter the realms of sleep beyond the reach of earthly time division, and in A SERMON FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION we are challenged to open the gates to the hallowed places of our ancestors and followed by being a silent witness to an ancient rite in DOWN DARK HALLWAYS. Already deep into the album’s core concept, we now meet the principal actors: THE KVLTANIANS. With due respect, a long intro introduces the song before a true hymn unfolds in front of the listener's ears. An extraordinary interplay between calm and fast passages, hard guitars and airy synth sounds in clean tonal coordination, in which each part changes its dynamics independently and yet in perfect harmony. In addition, Artaud's deep voice, which controls the ensemble and the structure of the prevailing dynamics of the song. After the preceding tour de force we find ourselves once more in calmer environs with MELTING MEMORIES. Haunting guitars and pulsating basslines at a steady pace. Artaud invites us to reflect on the all-important question: "Where do we come from?". Another seamless transition introduces the Great FLOOD myth, in that at the end of the song you can actually feel the water slowly crushing all over you. A short ringing, alarming noise leads us out of the meditative state and we are confronted with the majesty of Mars´, the highest geographical point in the solar system: the OLYMPUS MONS PEAK, which marks an epoch-making end to the album. You can feel the dedication, the time and the effort that went into doing this album. Questions are asked here that are meant to stimulate thought: a true masterpiece that challenges. A groundbreaking and genre-defining album, but also one with the potential to be so much more!
“she walked down the ancient hall with arcane knowledge to the dawn
she passes our ancestors to the origin of all.” Artaud Seth
Are we ready for the ultimate panoramic view from the peak of the symbolic mountain of cognition; this highest geological point within our solar system: the peak of Olympus Mons? And would we be ready to become spacefaring gods like our ancestors who came from outer space before us? KVLTAN tells a story that could have happened and perhaps even has. In a any case it is a story that should inspire you to dream.
“we can shake the Earth and move the Sun!” Artaud Seth
Digipack (matt finish, 6panel, 2CDs) with booklet.
Date of release: 18th of March 2022