Posted by Nick Skog on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Under: English
From: Black Phoenix Rising
Published: April 12, 2015
With their debut album ‘The Idea Of North’ Norilsk have thrown something of a curveball into the arena of death / doom metal, as while it’s certainly an accurate description of their music this is an album that’s quite unlike any other death / doom album I’ve heard up to now. What Norilsk do well here is take the genre to the more extreme end of the spectrum, coming at you with crushing heaviness and an atmosphere of stifling claustrophobia, while at the same time covering a hell of a lot of space within the death / doom framework. They have a hell of a lot of tricks up their sleeves, they throw in things you’d not expect to be hearing, and above all they bring it all together and make it work exceptionally well.
Norilsk are not a band interested in breaking listeners in gently or making themselves accessible, opener ‘Japetus’ makes this abundantly clear. This is sludgy, gritty music made by and aimed at those with a passion for the heavier side of doom. Norilsk still manage to deliver atmosphere within this sound however, as well as creating wide boundaries for themselves to work within and allowing themselves room to move and explore different avenues within their field. It’d be accurate to say of Norilsk’s debut album that if you just consider the term “extreme doom” and all the sounds that might fall under that umbrella, chances are you’ll hear most of the things that come to mind at some point during the hour or so playtime of this release. Probably a good number more as well, take second track ‘Planete Heurt’ for example, and the thick, slow sound of the opening part of this song, deep growled vocals, heavy bass work and droning chants in places. The last thing you’re expecting to happen is for the song to suddenly burst into a mind blowing guitar solo, with the guitar virtually singing to you, but this is what it does, it’s the sort of welcome surprise that Norilsk throw at you, and manage to integrate flawlessly into their sound as though this was the done thing across the board. Frankly it’s quite impressive just how versatile the band demonstrate themselves to be, playing with the genre, twisting it and turning it into new forms without breaking it. You’ve got some more accessible moments, ‘La Liberte Aux Ailes Brisees’ for example demonstrates this with fairly catchy riffing and some nice melodic touches interspersed throughout.
The album does mellow out a little into the second half, taking a softer but darker tone in the songs here, such as the ominous subdued sound of ‘Nature Morte’, its minimalistic approach creating a bleak aura of dread, leading into ‘Potsdam Glo’. Here we have some slow yet majestic riffs alternating between more ambient synth and bass led segments, there aren’t many clean vocals on the album but on this song they’re used to good effect. It’s not one of the more intense songs yet in my opinion serves to showcase much of what Norilsk are doing here, and as such is another highlight of the album. There’s a brief atmospheric instrumental in the form of ‘La Grande Noirceur’ which leads into the final song and title track, which presents an fitting conclusion to the album, going from post-rock atmospherics into funeral doom style drones, all the while the dry sound creating a powerful desolate atmosphere. By the time the album is done the sound of someone gasping for breath at the end is more than a fitting conclusion.
It’s probably best to go into this one without any preconceptions. It’s not the traditional, melodic, atmospheric death / doom album that you might be expecting, although that’s not to say those elements aren’t present. It’s not for those new to doom, death metal or any hybrid of the two either, and it most certainly isn’t for the closed minded or those who want their expectations met on their own terms. If you’re an open minded fan of doom and its variant forms however, want to hear new takes on familiar sounds and are willing to accept Norilsk on their terms as they open your eyes to things you might not have realised could be done with the genre then ‘The Idea Of North’ is one you should not allow to pass you by. What we have here is a richly atmospheric yet heavy and powerful album with an adventurous streak that will no doubt allow Norilsk to carve their own niche in the metal world, and as well as creating a deep and rich album they’ve set out a clear statement of intent with ‘The Idea Of North’. If future releases are on a par with this then we need to be keeping our eyes on this band for sure.
Reviewed by: Demoniac
In : English
Tags: norilsk the idea of north doom metal death-doom metal sludge doom metal gatineau canada canadian doom japetus