At this point I tend to never question Season of Mist when they present a new album and so it goes once more with Numenorean’s latest offering, Adore, which dives deep and headlong into atmospheric blackgaze that, at once, echoes bands like the Cure, Alcest, and Behemoth in equal measure. It’s become difficult to describe a band in this particular genre, whether you call it post-black or blackgaze, without comparisons to a certain band but we’re going to give it a go here.
One element that Numenorean executes extremely well in comparison to their contemporaries is their use of breakdowns. In this way, “Portrait of Pieces” is an entirely accessible slice of blackgaze done extremely well as it vacillates between a full on black metal assault to abbreviated sections that bring to mind more “mainstream” metal acts such as Killswitch Engage and arpeggiated, “quieter” passages. Taken alongside lead single, “Adore”, these two tracks are arguably the best upon repeated listenings. That said, this album is filled with moments sure to please the open-minded and open-eared metalhead.
Some of the tracks on the album do an excellent job of building the tension and release mechanism that we often see in similar bands of this style. However, on the song “Coma” we see the band drastically jump gears in a way that is nearly startling but serves the overall effectiveness of the piece. This is particularly exemplified by the riff that appears around the 3:00 minute mark of the song. When it finally erupts into a revisited blast of double bass drumming before dropping completely out, we are left with a feeling of exhaustion but in that good way when a band can take you and drop you off a cliff at a moment’s notice.
“Horizon” provides a tidy four-minute summation of what this band is but you are far better off giving time to the longer tracks on this album. Not that this track is bad, by any stretch, but rather, that on the lengthier songs the band gets to more fully display their range. That means incorporating a soaring, major key lead or some glistening acoustic interlude or some other device that adds another layer to what the band is delivering.
Adore might not become the commercial breakthrough that was Deafheaven’s Sunbather but it is definitely a worthy heir in terms of its adherence to innovating our understanding of black metal, evolution, and a layered approach that rewards multiple listens. The album is equal parts vicious and vulnerable. In an ideal world, some who have never listened to metal or ever considered the genre will give it a spin and they should. There’s enough in here that anyone who just loves music should be able to appreciate, not only for the ebb and flow of the overall piece, but also in its build to an inevitable crescendo and denouement.
Adore is out April 12th via Season of Mist, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.