Sertraline is a post-black metal band from Buffalo, NY, USA. Their EP These Mills Are Oceans encompasses 3 tracks: Eyes as Tableau, Their Cities and Prague I. You will hear different dynamics ranging from cleans to black metal style tremolo leads, enchanting atmospheres and thought-provoking ambience made of well-composed intros, verses and choruses. This beautifully crafted music with a nostalgic feel to it slightly reminds me of Agalloch’s Ashes Against The Grain and Evoken’s Quietus albums both of which I am personally a huge fan of. You could easily find resemblance in many other artists in the doom and black metal scene.
I have been listening to this EP for a few days now and I am normally hard to please, some people call me an asshole, and they are not wrong. I can be critical where it is due. If a piece of music is not great, we should say so purely with the intent to enable the artist to improve on what they are doing. For that reason as an artist myself, I value negative feedback over positive. However, all of that is irrelevant to SERTRALINE’s These Mills Are Oceans which to my surprise has resonated almost instantly. This EP just hit me in the face out of nowhere and since then I could not stop listening to it.
To get a better understanding of why this is the case, I looked up what the band name means. As it turns out Sertraline means anti-depressant (as in a drug/pharmacy medicine). This makes total sense now. It is exactly what the music is meant to be – a thought-provoking emotional roller coaster, the essence of the word “catharsis”. Personally, I struck a huge chord with Prague I, however, Eyes as tableau could easily be the highlight tracks as well as Their cities. The overall EP production is good. The vocals sound like they are in the background, personally, I would like them to be more present, but when listening to the music it is hard to even notice unless you are listening intently to analyze the production which in this EP is unnecessary. I personally would like the drums to be a tiny bit louder and prominent and there is huge room to experiment with different drum parts in this sort of music. A couple of skate beats sound out of time on the drums, not sure what happened there, but even that is very minor compared to what this whole EP represents.
The EP cover does not reveal too much other than it is something obscure, which leaves the listener to interpret it in their infinite imagination. It would be nice to have something more specific, as there is so much emotion in the music surely the author had something more specific in mind. The title These Mills Are Oceans in my limited interpretation seems to be another way of saying “still waters run deep” or simply put “this music is very deep and thought-provoking”, however, I could be wrong here. The same goes for the song titles,- not entirely sure how to correctly interpret them as there is plenty of room for imagination. In general, I find it challenging to fully or accurately interpret another person’s art, as this EP could carry easily many meanings. The lyrics could provide more insight into what exactly this EP is about, as the vocals are hard to understand, but again this is not necessary. Maybe this music is not meant to be understood but merely enjoyed.
Most importantly in a time where a lot of bands copy their favourite artist, this EP and artist stand out due to their originality. Whoever crafted this music did so from the bottom of their hearts and souls and it is noticeable when listening to it. If I was the artist, I would not change much at all other than write more music like this. I believe a lot of people will truly enjoy this EP. Thank you for your music, the world needs it.
Release Year: 2019
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records
Reviewed by Justin