Album Review: INSECT ARK Marrow Hymns
Insect Ark is my favorite Brooklyn band because they are one of the most unique and thoughtfully constructed acts out there. The number of bands who use a slide guitar in underground music is obviously extremely limited. Toss in all of the experimental noise elements that help make Insect Ark's brand of experimental doom so unique; you start to have something truly challenging to wrap your head around. Their newest album, Marrow Hymns is an absolutely stunning record—it's massive and twisted.
It explores the human condition and does so in a fascinating and minimalist way. It's hard to really deny yourself the inherent majesty of Insect Ark because the grace behind the music is simply overwhelming. Songs like "Slow Ray" ebb forward like mountains, sliding ever so slowly into new and more fascinating locales. There is something almost spiritual about these songs; it has me coming back to the record time and time again.
Doom metal is a genre I think a lot of people struggle with because so much of it seems like the same material constantly being rehashed. However, Insect Ark flourishes because what these women are doing is so alien. In many ways it makes sense, founder Dana Schecter has spent time in Angels Of Light, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Zeal & Ardor, and Gnaw. Her musical partner, drummer Ashley Spungin has played in Taurus; so the pedigree is certainly there. Yet not only are these two of the most hands-down impressive musicians in their genre right now, their vision is totally unique.
It's the sort of thing that is only comparable to perhaps Subrosa or maybe Yob. Unlike those bands, Insect Ark doesn't really deal in raw heaviness as much as they play on powerful emotions. They force you to come to terms with the darker and more esoteric sides of the genre. This is a challenging listen to be sure, but it's also one that is incredibly fun to explore and sink your teeth into. Every new song is a beautiful adventure.
Marrow Hymns is a huge step forward for this band, perhaps their most driven record yet. You feel yourself being guided through the massive sonic highways of Schecter's creation and drowning in the bliss of sheer volume. The focus on structure here—a product of her newfound mastery of steel guitar—has made this record full of unique explorations that the band has never before been able to fully embrace. Suddenly, you have a record that has the potency of Inter Arma or Jex Thoth; with the arrangements scaled back for a duo.
That being said, the band is proud they're able to do most of their music live. It is something folks heading out to see them on their European tour and Roadburn performance should be thrilled about. This is a stately masterpiece of a record and one that can't help but fascinate. It's a deep dive into the darker sides of a genre that has constantly left me begging for more. I'm thrilled to see what Insect Ark does next because Marrow Hymns is a jaw dropper.