Only a year and a half removed from a very well-received debut, Sweden’s Novarupta is returning with the second of four concept albums devoted to the exploration of elemental forces. Having already emerged through the fire, the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Alex Stjernfeld (The Moth Gatherer, Terra Tenebrosa) is now plumbing the iciest depths Earth’s most imposing and unknown foundation, water. The first glimpse comes in the form of “Broken Blue Cascades,” the opening track from their forthcoming album Marine Snow, scheduled for release November 13th on Suicide Records.
With its name deriving from the most forceful volcanic explosion of the 20th century, Novarupta has clearly committed fully to the idea of building a sound around the forces that drive life on earth, both into and out of existence. The music presents an intriguing blend of one-man project and collective effort. Stjernfeld composes and performs all of the songs, but has chosen to bring in a different guest vocalist for each, providing Novarupta with a sense of artistic collaboration that is often lacking in solo endeavors. This track features Josh Graham (A Storm of Light/ ex-Red Sparrowes), who brings a vocal style that proves both hypnotic and crystalline, effectively matching the ambient sound of waves crashing that usher in the beginning of the song and seem to remain subtly present throughout. Graham also designed the single artwork presented here.
While Novarupta is self-described as “blackened post-metal,” this track leans heavily on the post-metal side of that tag. If there is anything that can be described as blackened it would be the lyricism, which contains plenty of chilly environmental imagery and themes of inevitable collapse and self-destruction. Otherwise, this is a deliberately paced, tension-filled slow-burner that takes its time (but not too much time) arriving at where it’s ultimately headed, creeping from its atmospheric genesis toward an explosion of vigorously rhythmic riffing that shows a value placed squarely on groove as much as it is on volume. Also of note are the more restrained moments between these outbursts, particularly in the second half of the song where the bass line that pulses just beneath the surface provides the perfect amount of color to a track largely focused on creating an oppressive climate.
If this is any indication of what’s to come on the album’s subsequent four tracks, listeners should expect a towering, crushing exercise in atmospheric post-metal. If you need to get yourself up to speed on Novarupta’s journey through the elements, you can check out The Disillusioned Fire on the Suicide Records Bandcamp Page.