Album: Unus Duo Septem
Location: Semarang, Indonesia
Written by Aaron Michael Kobes
Seemingly straightforward, ye
t surprisingly nuanced, Indonesia’s Evenless releases their debut EP, Unus Duo Septem, a powerful combination of Sludge and Doom Metal darkly shaded with tinges of Stoner Rock. This effort comes nearly a year after the band’s initial single release Envy Eyes, released under the bands alternate name Evenless.doom, and tells the reverse tale of a man on a downward spiral, falling into drugs and ultimately prison, a rapid decline given the EP’s length of three songs spanning just over sixteen minutes. The length does not detract from the story being told or the musical conduit by which it is delivered, but there is most definitely more to the story, and it is one, I think deserving of a full release.
The EP begins, not with the songs themselves, but with the title, which takes a little deconstructing and guesswork to help aid the understanding of the work to come. The title, Unus Duo Septem, being Latin for the number 127, is an innocuous enough number seemingly, until one starts casting about looking for a potential meaning as to why a band would choose it as the title of their flagship Demo. One particular possibility of interest lies in numerology, the number 127 is what is known as an “angle number”, at least after a fashion (typical angel numbers within numerology being repetitive digits such as 111, or 444).
Though sometimes inconsistent depending on where you look, the core tenets of the meaning of this articulate “angel number” in numerology essentially means that the person to which this number is attached to, or for whom the number shows itself to consistently is capable of doing great things, however there is an image impulsivity that needs to be restrained or guided away from by another. This coincides with what we are told of on the Bandcamp page, with the artists description of the EP being the story of a man wishing to do well in his work, potentially meaning attempting to achieve success, but is led astray and ultimately finds himself addicted to drugs with the end result being his imprisonment.
It is from this imprisonment that we open the EP proper in the track Defect, a Doom inspired Sludge track. Working off the lyrical concept of reflection, it suggests that we already start in prison and work backwards towards the instance that led our saddened protagonist to incarceration; there is a form of musical allegory in the form of guitar feedback as the track starts up, and it is held for an elongated period. Feeding off of this there is a slow and measured ticking of the ride cymbal that accompanies an equally measured guitar riff, adding to an atmosphere that is quickly becoming singularly as oppressive as the lyrics are depressive- the opening line being, “in here God never comes/ and Satan too”. The additional isolation that the opening lyrics imply is tinged with the recall of feedback, and is a common theme within the track, being peppered in after or during a majority of the verses.
This point is further hit upon by the fact that the final verse is being sung twice, “I won’t pray/ What for I pray/ I’ve still to stay/ I will…”, with overly sludgy and heavily pregnant instrumentals in between. The idea invariably being that this sort of isolated rumination leads one to a hardened interior going so far as to condemn themselves by not praying, a sort of inverse forsaking of the transcendental being that the protagonist believes their God to have partook in. The final minute or so lends itself to a Sludge-Stoner breakdown, with heavy riffs that are just this side of overly fuzzed, with minor scaling work on the guitar that seems a restrained form of a breakaway, perhaps imitating a near mental breakdown, before the entire track gives out to a brief sustain and drop off, leaving us with only a singular haunting note the squeals in its high pitched warbling, reminiscent of the opening feedback.
The following track, Unicorn, begins in a similar fashion as Defect, delving further into the past by way of feedback. Accompanying it this time however, is a bass so fuzzed out and heavy that it almost overloads the speakers. Leaning more into the Doom territory with this track while still maintaining that Sludge edge with the guitar-bass tunings and effects, Unicorn is a downtempo experiment in hypnotism. The effect is deepened with the tracks repeated lyrics that contain more melodious vocals than the previous tracks, which bend and sway in pitch, volume and sustain, while acting in direct opposition to the harsh background created by the instrumentals, making for a dynamic coupling that transfixes the listener.
The other difference between Unicorn and its predecessor also lies within the lyrical content, shifting into more of a story telling aspect in what has happened rather than the exploration of a current predicament coupled with the declaration of despair. The story that the lyrics seem to tell then, is one of a lamented naïveté- as implied by the only lyrics that appear in more than one verse, “we’re trust each other” (sic). In addition to this, the lyrics hint at the introduction of drugs and rapid downfall by way of betrayal, “Lets do taste in home/ Careful to the bitches…They can trap you to blackhole” (sic). The decline is then evidenced by the break in Doom-induced drudgery towards the end of the track with a tremulous breakaway of a guitar climbing the scales in the brightest tonal moment of the track, only to be swallowed up again and covered in Doom and Sludge with the vocals returning to an even more despondent sounding “I’ will find…the poison dropped and leave”, finally fading out to yet another warbling sustained note of feedback.
Tempo starts off as a hardened Stoner-Rock sampling (after the beginning feedback of course), going so far as to dabble in a small amount of Blues-style riffing. It then quickly drops of into a sauntering strut of a groove that is an assemblage of all the touched upon genres exhibit thus far-Doom, Stoner and Sludge. It is also the most lively track on Unus Duo Septem in terms of consistent expansion away from the melody and brighter tonality. Additionally, Tempo contains the fastest points on the EP, with a mid-song breakdown that simultaneously has the sonic pus letting of a two and a half song build up, while hitting like a frenetic seizure in its suddenness as we are ostensibly taken to the tipping point of our protagonist’s descent. However, the brightness and liveliness do little to dampen the overall depressive feeling of the track. For instance, the decline of our protagonist can be seen in the tracks’ use of a seemingly disparate musical style in the Blues action when juxtaposed in/by the more modern “heavy and dark” scenes.
Utilizing a more retro style, Evenless not only further establishes the depressive atmosphere by way of another, arguably even more, soul-crushing genre in Blues, but establishes an even more depressive level, our protagonist struggle is neither unique or new, but rather a slight variation of a persona suffrage stemming from the same misery. Thankfully though, we have in Evenless a unique enough band to explore the depths of such misery in new and refreshing ways that still hold enough reflections of the past to be extensions of it, rather than derivative, and one only hopes that we see as much in a forthcoming full-release.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Evenless on Bandcamp: