PICK OF THE WEEK: Mur push ideas, sounds that champion nature, creativity on ‘Cut the Rivers Vein’

Let’s end the week on something that will get our brains working and our emotions identifying with what’s around us and how it’s a part of our lives. The world surrounding us, humanity, and expanding our brains are things that enrich our lives and are vital to a healthy existence both physically and mentally. I’m not sure if enough people embrace these things as positives to be protected.

There are a lot of thoughts and themes swimming in “Cut the Rivers Vein,” the fourth record from Minnesota-based Mur, the project helmed by Cam Sather. Over the past decade, Mur have created music that demands listener involvement and does not just act as background texture you can have on while you multitask. That’s especially true of “Vein,” a record that leans on themes of Romanticism, the work of William Blake, existentialism, nature, and plenty of others, and you can feel the emotions rushing through these six tracks and 51 minutes. It’s an album that will fill up your heart and mind and make you take stock on what is most important to you and where you can mine wisdom. Sather also uses a variety of sounds ranging from black metal to folk, rich grounds for his creations.

“A Billet of Regret” opens acoustically, giving off a rustic feel as the sound develops, and the track spreads its wings. Sather’s growls then erupt as the pace opens and sludges, stomping and lurching through burnt terrain. Growls lace as the fog rises, guitars waft, and sound rings out inside your head. “O’palesce” dawns with mournful tones and Sather’s singing before the power nudges its way into the picture. Then everything bursts as grisly growls become a major factor, and the playing pummels hard, giving way to a sprawling dream with the drums leaving bones as dust. “Lowered Cloud” runs 11:36 and flows into folkish waters, as Sather calls, “Born under caul, amniotic nightfall, fossilized grain, the river explains,” before thrice singing, “Don’t grieve them.” An electric boost is just over the horizon as the shrieks welt and the pace trucks harder, mixing between harsh cries and clean wails, giving off great energy. The soloing blazes as things take a dark turn, the growls hiss, and the energy increases before things woosh off into space.

The title track also emerges in acoustics, and over the next 11:22, we take a jarring, emotional journey. The vocals heat up as things get dicey, and the playing slowly bludgeons and rams through, moving into doomy waves. Thick growls blister as sunburnt guitars race for the skies, and everything intensifies as the heat increases. Guitars blaze, the tempo flows, and the final minutes submit to the warmth, giving off some of the most exhilarating parts of this entire record. “A Powerful, Uneasy Feeling” enters gently with softer, more vulnerable singing, giving you a moment to breathe before the hammers drop. The vocals scrape agitated skin as the guitar work just goes off, feeling like a flood of lava and chaos that threatens with its emotional climax. “Breach & Bitter” closes the album, a 12:03-long bruiser that slowly moves at first, generating its heat. The vocals carve as the playing hulks along, ripping and mauling, paving the way for black metal-style devastation. The drums erupt as the menace floods, splattering and splurging into doom tar pits. Everything trudges as burly energy becomes more abundant, the leads just strangle, and the final moments bask in the carnage it caused, Sather calling, “Laborious joy! Thick summer stars!”

There’s plenty to mull and absorb on “Cut the Rivers Vein,” and that doesn’t just include the music, which will leave your head swollen as it takes on all these forces. There’s just as much to consider from a lyrical and conceptual standing, which means you’re not getting off easy with Mur’s fourth record if you plan to be an active listener. This is an album that requires repeated visits so you can scan every crevice and valley to make sure there isn’t a morsel of information you might have passed over.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/murminnesota

To buy the album, go here: https://murmn.bandcamp.com/album/cut-the-rivers-vein