Monday, October 1, 2012

Overmars' Born Again

Born Again
is the 2007 follow up release to 2005's Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo, and very different in structure. It's one massive track at 39:26 in length.

Envision a girl - the same one personified in Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo who easily could have met her maker in the depths below. Only envision she didn't meet her maker and she's returned for another bout of possibly life-terminating exaltations. She's seeking adrenaline to prevent depression; balancing apprehension with ecstasy. This time she's free climbing a mountain - a cliff - and coming to a point where she can climb no further (what a mountain climber would refer to as a "crux"). It's a difficult place in the climb, where the climber, typically solo, must perform a set of moves in dynamic motion to move forward or grab a hold of what would otherwise be out of reach. The lyrics in the song are the thoughts running through the climber's head as she comes to terms with her situation and the possible fate that awaits her. I’m close to dying a thousand times, but this time I allowed myself to cry…. If she stays where she is her only possible fate is death. Or, she could confront her fears and continue to climb, and possibly save herself.

Arms in a cross, ready to absorb the shock.
I just know I can’t go lower.
There is no under.
Just me, myself and I.
And the will to stay or to climb.

Or… the lyrics could be symbolizing an unborn child's attempt to escape from the womb. Playing disturbing footage of stillbirths, among other things, on makeshift projection screens made of bed sheets at their live shows, Overmars has a strange fascination with parturition. In addition to an exhilarating stint of free climbing, the lyrics also describe metaphoric birth, which makes the footage relevant.

Seeing the plague’s face taking shape doesn’t scare me anymore.
Seeing the plague coming out of my wounds liberates me.
Listen to the screams coming out of my wounds, free from the plague.
Listen to the screams coming out of the hole, holding the sound of joy and pleasure.
Listen to my screams announcing the birth of a new man.

The light is brighter from the dark. The latter is likely the band's intended meaning, but that's the beautiful thing about lyrics. You can interpret them as you wish. Avoiding sudden antenatal death syndrome, is a child born? Or has a mountain climber tamed her trepidations and transcended to start life anew in what could be interpreted as essentially a bizarre allegory?

The profuseness of exuberant emotion flowing from the vocal performance of Mrs. Marion Leclercq is perhaps, for its brief seven minute duration, unparalleled by any other female vocalist in all of metal. What she accomplishes here is nothing short of brilliant.  It might not even be correct to call it "singing," but it's sure passionate. The hate, the anger, the agitation, emanates from her and spews forth as if she's actually a subject in whatever situation she is portraying. Her screams are downright scary, and her cleans echo and reverberate as though she's crying out from the loneliest chambers of Hell, forced to face her fears and hoping someone will hear.  And we do!  We hear her loud and clear.  Here she is in Austria on Overmars' European tour in April of '06:

This isn't music you want to play in a car on a date (I know from experience). The first time listener's reaction to sitting though the opening ten minutes of this track is typically one of pure horror. Oddly, the climax comes near the beginning of the song instead of the end. 
The first fifteen minutes are the best of the track. Eerie electronic noises, growled and soaring vocals, and thick pounding riffs form a sound that's distinct and easily recognizable as Overmars'. As the track progresses it drones, and the despair becomes almost overwhelming. Of all the songs in this band's brief discography, this one is the heaviest. It's unabridged doom. It's one of the heaviest albums ever recorded, competing with the likes of Electric Wizard's Dopethrone, SunO)))'s ØØ Void, Godflesh's Streetcleaner, and EyeHateGod's Dopestick. Born Again is a giant monolith of crushing doom and relentless noise. 
Walls of sound flatten listeners, who might be begging for death before the end. Or hemorrhaging one.

Originally written as a review for Sputnik Music:

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