When it comes to extreme music, New Orleans is mostly known for sludge. That being said, it also produces rather fine black metal, as exemplified by Mehenet. Their sophomore album will be out soon and is called «Ng’ambu», meaning “the opposite shore.” Its press release explains that it “is meant to be interpreted as a hymnal to invoke and praise spirits” and “shows the band drenched in offerings to the bands personal connection and dedication to Quimbanda, the Afro-Brazilian diasporic belief system based around magic, rituals, and offerings.” The band itself goes on to explain that “it is both an offering to our Cabula, that is our house, as it is to the spirits of Quimbanda themselves. This isn’t a passing interest and all the members of the band have been involved in one way or another in a formal manner. What does it mean to engage these spirits? In some sense we are turning what could otherwise be poison into medicine. It is a process of engaging, through struggle, with those aspects of ourselves and the world which live at the pivot point of chance and desire. It is about seeking agency even in the thistles of the road. Quimbanda is the fire by which we forge our iron and the strangling plants that cure disease. Quimbanda is both the pox and the inoculation. Quimbanda is our anxiety and the motivation that anxiety produces. It is conflict and the strength that comes from engaging that conflict. People say, idle hands are the devil’s plaything, and so we have put those hands and The Devil to work.” Below, listen to the album’s closing song, «The Mystery of Nations».
It should be mentioned that the New Orleans connection does not simply refer to a geographic origin, as the band has incorporated local elements into the album, “by way of utilizing samples of the bustling French Quarter and by paying respect and praise to the cultural music of the city by incorporating congas, whistles, and bells.”
«Ng’ambu» is set for release on September 10 through Gilead Media and Stygian Black Hand on cassette, cd, digital, and vinyl formats. Pre-orders can be found here (cd, digital, and vinyl coming soon) and here (cassette and digital).
Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t end this article with a stream of Mehenet’s debut album, «Dii Inferi», independently released on March 20, 2018, and still available on cassette, cd, and digital formats here.