Editor’s note: the following review was written by a good friend of the blog, and fellow metal journalist, TheMadIsraeli of No Clean Singing. For internal reasons, this review was left without a home. Seeing how much we love this album and this review, in all its black metal grandiosity, we thought we’d give it a home. Head on over to No Clean Singing to check out his other articles/reviews and the blog in general; those guys rule!
Black metal has been riding a wave of absolute sonic supremacy in the last four or so years, mainly owing itself to the way the style is increasingly shirking it’s rather shallow, cartoony origins in favor of redefining itself in a way that is still uniquely black metal. The cartoon Satanism and villainy is being replaced by sheer human horror, pain and suffering in the form of an ever flowing cascade of dissonant melodic soundscapes, progressive ambition and raw, tortured and primal vocals that are a far cry from the attempt to sound demonic or inhuman, but rather embrace the barbarism and terror of human agony and rage in tonality.
Other bands choose a more majestic, melodic route that still manifests itself as an acid rain cascade so thick you can’t see through it of blast beats and gorgeous, depressive melodies in the form of sonic walls produced by huge chords. Nidingr are definitely more in the camp of esoteric, tortured, blistering and blasphemous embrace of the most vile and offensive of humankind and their new record The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is one of 2017‘s peak heights of extremism and expressionism. Utilizing a combination of relentless momentum, riffs that speak of the channeling of magick itself, an avant garde sense of overpowering cohesive dissonance and chunky death metal heft assisted by the bands unusually low tuned guitars, Nidingr offer something relentless, chaotic, venomous and 100% human in the form of a 40+ minute fuck you to god, society and existence itself. Combine this with Estrella Grasa’s bloody scraping vocal tone and you have an album that is about as thoroughly as metal as it gets.
There is dynamism to this music, ebb and flow in a barely contained tearing apart of the fabric of existence itself. While the album opens up with an undeniably effective two pronged offensive in the form of scorchers like “Hangagud” or “Syrtur” that are black metal at its blackest, doomier progressive numbers like “Gleipner” or grotesque metallic balladry like “On Dead Body Shore”, with cosmic melody and horror alike, showcase a band that know how to write multi faceted black metal with a ton of depth and musical mileage. Other moments like the straight up doom bringing “Ash Yggdrasil”, with its painful, labored corpse dragging slough, only show that pain and suffering come in degrees and are much more nuanced than maybe we care to admit. The music on this record is appropriately, and truly, apocalyptic in every way. Most metal just plays at, or pretends to be, or fails to be this.
The main actors in establishing this atmosphere are the riffs. Black metal bands of all sorts in the older days liked to make much ado of any sort of occult or pagan nature they could work up, but Nidingr’s guitar work channels a much more human, spiritualist, innate magick element of energy manipulation. These riffs, while they may use the limited palette of notes that music is confined to by human understanding, are owned and feel truly materialized into being by sheer force of will. There are bands who use theory, science or math to write guitar riffs where things are calculated or assumed into the boxes music theory presents, and there are bands who feel something beyond the rules, the boxes and petty human desires for expression within those rules or boxes. If any sort of otherworldly spiritual manifestation or power exists that allows humans to cull inspiration from a beyond of any sort, Nidingr’s Teloch has this gift. This isn’t music that just anyone could write or compose. It’s plainly felt to it’s very core.
The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is horrific blackened putridity at its most overwhelming, bitter and transcendent. True human power lies in this music, nothing more and nothing less. It is a proper, effectively powerful vent for the most pervasive of negative energies and their earthly materialization.
The High Heat Licks Against Heaven releases today, February the 10th via Season of Mist. Head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above, to get your copy. Seriously, do it. The gods command it.