|Solens Vemod cover painting by R. Jonsson|
This past weekend I did some camping and heavy drinking at the Ommegang brewery in Cooperstown NY for their annual 'Belgium Comes To Cooperstown' event. This festival is quite the ode to the illustrious lifestyle that is the modern day US craft beer explosion as well as a mighty nod to the much older and much richer culture of the Belgian beer scene. This, my 6th time over 8 years in attendance and the celebration, beer selection and of course, the hangover just gets larger with every passing anniversary. The first morning, as usual, I found myself awake before most, sluggishly stumbling through the mountainous terrain, cutting through the thick morning fog and battling the falling mist and summer dew. If not for my trusty Ipod the peaceful dawn would have quickly become unbearable, most likely resulting in conversation with another sloppy and battered enthusiast of which I certainly was not in the mood. After taking advantage of the scenery and snapping a few photos, I perched on a cement slab directly behind the brewery where I set up post for about an hour or so. A somewhat dry seat was quite attractive at this point and it was far enough from the reaches and odors of rent-a-johns to keep my already sour beer scorched stomach from turning against me. I had exhausted a nice chunk of 2014 releases and classics on the 4+ hour ride up to the site the day before, saving a few favorites for this kind of inevitable moment.
|one of the photos I took on Saturday morning at the brewery|
After scrolling shortly, I settled on Nasheim's 2014 movement 'Solens Vemod'. An appropriately titled piece which translates in English to 'The Sun's Sadness' and at this 6 AM moment in time the struggling sun was surely among friends, all struggling after a booze filled night of partying. Nasheim is a solo Atmospheric Black Metal project from Sweden. Sole member Erik Grahn is a one man wrecking crew of song writing and performance. A guest musician by the name of only E. Almroth takes care of the subtle cello and violin work here. Active since 2001, this is the first full length released under the Nasheim banner although Northern Silence Productions has been a backer since 2004's Evighet / Undergång demo compilation. I have not heard any other material than 'Solens Vemod' but I will be purchasing that release shortly as I'm sure its quality is nothing less than superb.
A perfect mix between harsh black metal, backed in times by ravenous blast beats sandwiched between stunning and memorable riffs with a dark, looming folk influence and ethereal atmospheric wandering passages all maintain a unique balance and harmony throughout this incredible 4 song album. The recipe is near perfect and the material never becomes tired, monotonous or predictable. The tempo changes come at just the right time, engaging the listener deeper into the void of existence that they are currently teetering on. Did I mention the riffs? God damn it. The guitar (and bass!!) work here, although simple enough, it is beyond effective in displaying a wide range of emotion and skill set. A great mention should be made about the vocal work done here as well, aside from the brash screams which are more than competent, there are some very nice clean works done here as well, mostly in the form of ghostly dissonant group chants that add another layer to the atmosphere created. A surprisingly clean production rounds out and heightens the beauty and power of these wonderful compositions.
Northern Silence Productions, Gatefold Digi, NSP 124
This digi is absolutely beautiful. The amazing artwork painted by "R. Jonsson" rests upon a thick stock and stretches across 2 panels. The other panels address a scene much like the one I experienced in the mountains this weekend. Fog, mist, trees all tinted an eerie green hue, lyrics neatly printed atop. Wondrous and creepy, totally fitting to the music within. Northern Silence's releases this year have all been top notch in appearance and of course material.
Nearly flawless. At times some of the material reminds me of other bands within the genre and surrounding genres. This is not a bad thing. Never once did I cringe and say... that sounds just like "_______". Shit happens. This album fucking kills, get over it. The production is one of the best I've heard for the style.
Replay Potential (9/10)
I bought this back in April through the amazing US based Ominous Domain distro and have already spun it countless times over the past 3 months. This album is a very enjoyable spin and it clocks in at under an hour making its replay value pretty damn high.
Imports are kind of expensive, what can I say other than I'm a cheap bastard? It still wont stop me from buying most of the Northern Silence, Svart and Nordvis releases, unless of course they want to send them to me ;)
This is a top 5 album of 2014 for me easily. Both veterans and newbies to the genre alike will find something to gush over here. I hope there is a long string of quality Nasheim releases ahead of us. I cant wait to pick up the back catalog. Pretty sure the first pressing of under 2000 copies is all but gone although you should be able to find it if you try hard enough. Buy it digitally or stream it on Bandcamp in the mean time. Just do something about this.