Monday, November 28, 2016
“Pale Moon” has a recycling topline riff that buzzes about like a bee trapped in a bottle. It’s a total earworm but, by the third run-through, not in a good way. It’s a blessed relief when its steady disintegration into white noise is finally complete. “Last Days” swings a little more; a loose-limbed slice of Americana with a sweet, folky hue.
Robin Hirse’s emotive vocal wraps itself lazily around the rhythmic backline drawing you temptingly into each track. His lyrics are often dark – “Death will come, he always does / for each and every one of us” – complementing the melancholic tones that lurk within the music. For “‘Til Dawn” he gnarls up his delivery to match the bass-boogie and old-school riffery. For “Wolf & Snake” he bristles as his vocal drops in the mix and takes on a powerful, cracking quality to it. Solid, intense and heady at every turn, the groove makes this a sure-fire stand-out.
With the tracks sliding off the bat, chilled, smooth and easy. it’s a bit of a shock when “Them Calling” hits. Suddenly the music gets urgent, driven with menacing mantras and demonic choral chanting. Warnings such as “Like the pain of a rusty chain around your neck / I’ll make damned sure that you never will forget” quickly make you realise we have strayed from the true path. Rather brilliantly, the metallic tang of steel invades the chords and the distortion and overdrive begin to shatter our repose.
III is a cracking little step back in time with a nice twist in the tail. It’s sadly a tad short at 35 minutes and besides a couple of tracks it fails to bring anything especially new to the table. Having said that it’s spectacularly solid and funnily enough makes for a great driving album.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Well, there’s definitely some progression here. More melody than before, some interesting warm tones and FX tweaks. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That mysterious album title – what gives? Well, it comes from a runic inscription on a Norwegian gravestone – the Eggja Stone – which actually provides some of the lyrical content on the record. And the tracks?
“The Stone” is loaded with elephantine potency. It twinkles like splintering glass falling upon its top layer, and sinks down to the alien, sub-aqueous thunder of metal under extreme pressure. After ten minutes, spasms of electric guitar kick in to set up the whirring, bass-heavy clank of some vast industrial machine. Blasts of steaming hiss squirt as if from pin-holes as ethereal voices whisper non-sequiturs and pistons drive the beast towards a semi-melodic, melancholic middle-section before returning to the melee.
“The Sun” is the lightest, most appealing prospect I’ve heard from Nadja for a good few years. With rich, ambient tones and emotive, spiralling stringwork, this plays like an ambient, post-rock track not too dissimilar to something from the back catalogues of Palms or OSI. There are vocals that whisper around the edge of your lobes, without ever taking root inside your ear canals. They are sung as if from behind some parallel dimension. There are waves, there is a beach and a sun and someone is talking close to your ear. It’s unsettling, and even more so when the whole image begins to dissolve into a dark malevolence of phantom-like white noise and subterranean crush. A wall of sound, sprawling, crawling and devouring all.
“A Knife” is far less ambitious than its compatriots. It’s a mixture of atmospheric, ambient drift, vibrant distortion and bristling fuzz and forms a 22-minute amorphous journey through a skyscape of sound.
Ultimately, each movement owns the space in which it exists, each differing in character, each stamping its authority upon the listener. Fans of drone and ambience will find these new worlds excitingly moreish. Is there enough to warrant repeat journeys? Considering its mammoth 79-minute runtime, maybe not for a while but, hell, we’re glad we visited.