From: The Sludgelord
Published: November 20, 2017
French Canadian doom duo Norilsk return from a two-year layoff with a surprising new album, one that gives a reengaged sound to the pair's signature style.
Norilsk's 2015 full length, "The Idea of North," was praiseworthy as a doom record. From its terse moments to unique departures, the album conjured up recollections of some of the better moments of groups like Last Sacrament and a more downtempo Temple of Void. In other words, Norilsk forged a steadfast doom metal path, with new wrinkles – a touch of moody ambience and experimental music most notably was part of the band's approach.
With "Le Passage des Glaciers" Norilsk plunges headlong into an atmospheric realm that is far bolder than past offerings. "Midnight Sun" begins seemingly where "The Idea of North" left off, until it doesn't. There's that familiar doom metal footprint to the cut that veers off into unusual territory. A spoken word bridge into a dirge-like guitar progression floats into "Le puits de l'oubli," which follows an identical road. Strong, classic doom arrangement makes the song outstanding, while Nicholas Miquelon’s low vocals set a depressive tone. There's a psychedelic riff that emerges about three minutes in, before giving way to rapturous doom. You hear these idiosyncratic elements throughout "Le Passage des Glaciers" to varying impact. There's the prog-rock introduction to "Namolennye" and the grubby blues riffage of "La voie des morts," which spins a hypnotic tempo. Norilsk manages to be bold without being alienating, and that is indeed refreshing.
Hardcore doom fans may like Norilsk's latest because it is molded with an eye to old-school doom records; seldom does the album go past a glacial pace, with even the stylistic flourishes never distracting the duo's strong suit. Songs such as "Ghosts of Loss (Passage pt. I)" and "Noirceur intérieure" prove to be deceptively good because they center the fundamentals: exceptional guitars, compact drumming and a reverberating vocal. Even as a selection like "L'érosion (Passage pt. II)" charts into post-rock territory, Norilsk keeps its core doom aesthetic as its compass. Again, such is a philosophy that is good because it is harder to pull off than the casual listener realizes, though musicians may well appreciate most how well "Le Passage des Glaciers" steps out while also seeming to be part of the greater canon.
As the release ends with the curiously quiet "Ellesmere," the listener has to appreciate the risks Norilsk took to get here. The band's subtle experiments deliver in ways you hear a few listens in, presenting a stunning return for the Canadian act.
Posted by Nick Skog. Posted In : English