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IRGALOM- Meditate I and Meditate II

Irgalom is a one man extreme metal artist hailing from Budapest, Hungary. The studio band/ project was born in 2016 and has been quite prolific since. The artist also has other bands of differing styles, such as Abandoned Mortuary and The Arbiter. Irgalom specifically mixes black and death metal influences with a penchant for doom. The 2 Meditate albums are not Irgalom's first foray into concept albums, noting the band's prior seasonal oriented cds: Autumn Psalms, Winter Hymns, and Spring Anthems. The theme of both Meditate albums being the meditation and hiding in our hearts of Scripture, thus the end result is something like individual Psalms fleshed out in blackened death metal music. Critics of extreme metal cite indecipherable lyrics as their main complaint, but I contend that when the lyrics are based on Scripture subliminal messaging isn't a bad thing. Album cover artwork on Irgalom discs is almost always nature backgrounds.

Meditate I follows this formula of worshipful extreme metal based on Psalms throughout. Songs vary from slower, more doom based songs to faster paced. Vocals are gruff death/ black growls that don't change much in pitch or volume, but occasionally layered so that it sounds like several vocalists, sometimes with spoken word portions. Guitar work is good, but frequently plays second fiddle to the drumming- notably double bass drumming, not blastbeats, as one might expect. The drumming is quite striking, especially on "Ancient Laws." Meditate I is a long player at 12 songs, plus bonus tracks "Like a Breath," "Endures Forever," and a Vardoger cover "Footprints of Thunder." (Abran Records/ Christian Metal Underground Records) -3 out of 5 stars

Meditate II is the same style and theme as its prequel with one astonishing difference, and that being in the vocal department. Right from the opening track "Sustain Me," Irgalom stretches himself by performing both clean and extreme metal vocals, and far from being an experiment, the guy's melodic vocals are quite good. The interplay of both style vocals is about the same effect as when Rey Parra did a duet with Roger Martinez on Sacred Warrior's song "The Flood." The album is split in the middle by the classically influenced instrumental "Let Me Live." "A Lamp for My Feet" features clean guitars and a slower, doomy intro before the speedier chorus and then taking turns between fast and slow passages. "To Last Forever" marks a return to the marriage of melodic and extreme vocals, which are the standout tracks on the album. This time around, 12 tracks are followed by a cover of the Vaakevandring song "Some Day." What I like most about this pair of albums is the earnest seeking after God evident in the music. Regardless of musical style, the artist's heart shines through. (Abran Records/ Christian Metal Underground Records) - 3.5 out of 5 stars

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