Nature has a power, that touches us in a way that defies explanation. It’s an almost sublime force that the mountains, forests and waters have on us. Many musicians have been inspired by the majesty of the outdoors, like Noctem Aeturnus, Noorvik and Slow. Their sounds bring to live the awe we are filled with when gazing upon the mighty world that surrounds us.
Normally I like to focus on one record at the time in reviews. These three albums came to me together and hence I felt it would be appropriate to bring them together in writing. Though there’s probably no connection in any way between the artists, seeing the covers side by side created a connection.
Noctem Aeturnus: Ice beating on the majestic mountainside
Noctem Aeturnus hails from Argentina, a land that has fire and ice both within its fertile body. The cover of ‘Winter Fells’ shows the mighty, rugged mountains, that can inspire any art. The cold ambient sounds combine well with raw black metal, howling vocals like the wind that beats upon the visible face of the mountains. As an unrelenting wind, the guitar soars on while blast beats imitate the snow beating down upon its brow. Slow and regal, the music lunges onwards in a grand way, emulating the beauty in all its splendor and deadlines.
Noctem Aeturnus carves out a path through the frozen waste, back straight and standing in the face of immense power and strength that the mountain holds. The mountain is solid, unbend and unbroken, but constantly facing the same hammering as we hear in the songs like ‘Winter Spells’ and ‘Diminishing Night’. The icy battering you get on ‘The Waning Moon is Fallen’ is severe but laced with the Burzum-esque synth drops, that evoke the dripping sound of ice melting. A majestic listening experience if I ever I had one.
Noctem Aeturnus is a one-man project, by a man named Ramiro. He also plays in Darker Mysteria on the drums.
Noorvik: Regal visions of the Northern frontier
The band from Cologne has found fascination in Alaska, one of those places where humans choose to live, but only thrive at the mercy of mother nature. Life is more fickle at the frontier, where the Germans Noorvik take their name from (an Iñupiat city in the north-west of Alaska). As you gaze up from the mountains, we see the essence of the land through the lens of Noorviks sound. Just a faint noise erupts, as we gaze upon the mighty landscape and the dense trees. The sheer magnitude of such a land is captured in the sonic force the postrockers with a tad bit of progressive metal in the mix. Spun out, big soundscapes create the feel of the endless forests and plains, but also the subtleties of the natural beauty and harmony are emulated by the expressive and subtle guitars.
A feeling of both clarity and sombreness is evoked by the sound of Noorvik. As if the land is slumbering under that thick blanket of snow, under which so much more is hidden. There’s even a sense of playfulness on ‘Kobuk’, which feels like a dance around the fire. The band weaves together the parts into a whole, a sonic painting of the land that beckons the listener to explore and visit it’s vast nature.
Noorvik is a four-piece. This is their debut record.
Slow: From unknown depths, down in the Ocean
Label: GS Productions
On their latest record, Slow really captures the oblivion that rests under the waves. Deep, uncharted darkness overwhelms the listener with the abyssal black metal sound of the Belgian group. Crushing, gargantuan vocals roll over the listener as you are sucked into the depths by Slow. ‘Aurore’ is an almost funeral doom-like experience of oppressive, all-consuming music, much like the crushing of mighty waves or the absolute deep.
It doesn’t necessarily fills you with despair, but with surrender to something so much greater and stronger. Something we can hardly imagine is captured in the surging riffs of Slow, it doesn’t relent, nor diminsh. The uncaring force of nature unleashed. Drowning never felt so good as on this record. On ‘Déluge’ you tread water, and the keys allow you to gasp at air for a brief moment, as the angelic sound of singing resounds but melts away again. Then the water breaks open and swallows you again like a giant maw, with an unearthly roar that can only be caused by earth-shattering clashes as every ounce of hope is sucked out of you.
Slow is Olmo Lipani, Belgian musician, who is responsible for an incredible range of projects, from Maladie to Cult of Erinyes and a dozen more. This is the fifth album for Slow, but also the first on which Lipani cooperates with Lore Boeykens, fellow bandmember in Ter Ziele.
Cover image by Justina Lukosiute