New York City-based artist/musician M. Lamar’s aesthetic vision is so uniquely his own, that no matter what entry point draws a listener into his music, they’re likely to encounter sounds and themes that are completely new to them. Such a far-reaching musical and cultural point of view is a thrill in a time when most new bands seem to be aimed squarely at pleasing fans of a specific subgenre, and even most “experimental” works can feel more like mere genre mixology rather than a truly novel creation.

Over the course of two new records released last month, Funeral Doom Spiritual and Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche, Lamar’s operatic counter-tenor voice hovers over arrangements influenced by doom metal, contemporary classical music and the tradition of Negro spirituals, bolstered by contributions from some of the biggest names in NYC avant-metal like Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (Liturgy), Charlie Looker (Psalm Zero, Extra Life) and Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, Withered). The lyrics touch on various aspects of black identity, with a strong emphasis on the history of brutality, persecution, and sexual obsession/possession of African Americans, and how that history relates to the troubling continuity of such violence in the present day.

But even though these albums are challenging, they’re far from inaccessible. The new video for “Carrying”, off Funeral Doom Spiritual, comes from one of the most beautiful and haunting songs off either record. The clip (directed by Lamar) finds the singer literally enacting the refrain “I’ve carried your coffin on my back” in stark black-and-white over somber piano, as well as strings composed by Hendrix.

“Is it metal or not?” arguments bore me to death, and while “Carrying” is certainly not a metal song, it’s bleak, funereal tone certainly feels informed by the more dirge-like end of the metal spectrum. “Usually there’s an epic or catastrophic sensibility or both that draw me to music,” Lamar says in an interview where he expresses admiration for Sunn O)), Immortal and even Burzum. “That’s the music I want to make.” With “Carrying,” Lamar has certainly succeeded.

-Jason Bailey

Lamar had this to say about the video:

"Carrying enacts a kind of epic romance with the dead and the fallen. One of the things I was thinking about was Emmett Till's mother or Tamir Rice's mother and the ways these mother's have dedicated their entire lives to quest for justice forever carrying their lost beloved's with them forever. For me it was easy to extend this idea to all the fallen throughout the history of black people in the US. I am certainly with pride, love and great responsibility carrying these legacies with me at all times. For me this is the ultimate gothic romance - a great mourning/morning that never ends."

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