Monday, 26 August 2013

Nordland - The True Cult of The Earth


Over the next five or so days, I'm going to attempt to write about some of this years newest black metal releases, alongside some older releases and end with a label feature on US black metal label Baneful Genesis Records. Before that though, I bring you my first review featuring UK one-man black metal band Nordland, whose atmospheric, ambient black metal graced this blog last year, when I wrote about the self-titled album that was released by Glorious North Productions. This new album sees the continuation of that great partnership and The True Cult of The Earth features seven new tracks.

Tracklist:-

1. The Great Hall of the Sky
2. Dawn Calling of Thunor
3. Eithtelor
4. Heathen Lands
5. I Am the Winds of the Earth    
6. A Mound to Lay My Bones Upon    
7. Crows
 

For those of your who are familiar with Nordland, you'll know that Vorh's brand of black metal is both ice-cold and blisteringly beautiful. Vorh's skill as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter cannot be questioned. Choosing to start with a gargantuan track in the form of The Great Hall of The Sky gives you an immediate benchmark to work from. The song is mid-paced with cymbals crashing in the background; the guitar and bass play in a winding, ambient pattern and never threaten to become inaudible, while those cold growls pierce you deep. It's during the mid-section that Nordland becomes mesmeric and haunting, as the riffs swirl around and the subtle intricacies within the music begin to show themselves.

The horn like sounds that greet you as Dawn Calling of Thunor begins is as riling as it is haunting. It's also where the album's pace begins to increase. There's more urgency in the guitars and drums yet there still manages to be plenty of unnerving melody amongst it all. That melody created by the guitar is what adds that extra element to Nordland's sound, as thanks to the good production, it doesn't get lost in the mix and
adds depth. Some people may sense elements of doom in the mid-section briefly, but this is quickly overtaken by a fairy-tale like instrumental passage with what sound like choral melodies humming away in the background. As with all heathen-like music though, more bleak black noise snaps that calming atmosphere away from you. That noise has some groove though!

That momentum and pace created in Dawn Calling of Thunor carries on into Eithtelor. The further you progress through The True Cult of The Earth, the more the guitar tone grows on your. It's adds a strange warmth to the record. That initial momentum that started the song off, heralds immense power, especially in the rhythm section. There are times when mid-paced dramatics comes to the fore and then at times, the incredible double bass hits you, rearing its head above the guitars. Winding it's way through seven and a half minutes; it highlights a progressive tendency in Vorh's song writing.

Black metal for me is all about painting images of dark thoughts and barren lands, it's not all about Satan or corpse paint. Bands or entities that cast a mysterious shadow are usually the ones that have more integrity and originality, which is definitely the case here. Nordland doesn't go shouting from the rooftops and there's a lack of histrionics, which is refreshing. Heathen Lands reinforces that notion well and helps propel The True Cult Of The Earth to greater heights, which should see the band sit atop of the UK's black metal scene by virtue of the commitment and hard work that's been put into producing this and previous records. In fact, as I write this, it seems that people are already taking note, in small part due to the recognition from Candlelight Records band Winterfylleth. It's great to see another quality UK black metal taking interest in their scene and helping to open peoples eyes to great bands.

Inspite of the coldness that exists on The True Cult of The Earth, there are moments that transcend that feeling. The instrumental mid-section during I Am The Winds of The Earth makes use of the ambiance within the album and uses it to build an atmosphere that conjures images of bleak landscapes and isolation. More and more bands have been writing about nature and human existence alongside it in recent years, taking black metal down a more cosmic and humane path. Nordland excel at creating a sound, which builds on that influence. Touching more of the morose, death influenced end of the spectrum, A Mound To Lay My Bones Upon adds another layer of tension and contributes to the story-like progression of the album.

There are only seven songs on this album, but with a quality of quantity approach, all of them sound brilliant. As closer Crows starts on its journey through ten minutes of bleak soundscapes, it harnesses the power and the thoughtfulness that's been present throughout. Not settling for any filler or songs that don't embody Nordland's mantra of transporting the listener back to times forgotten, before the blight of man scarred the earth, Vorh has succeeded in producing an album that will stand the test of time.You can have your theatrics and your empty music, but you won't ever feel what others feel when listening to a record with true passion and emotion. Nordland has progressed from the band's self-title debut and has done so in a subtle, yet glorious way.

You can here closer Crows via Youtube below:-


As mentioned at the head of this review, The True Cult of The Earth has been released via Yorkshire's Glorious North Productions. You can purchase the record here - http://www.gloriousnorth.co.uk/releasesnordland-true-cult-of-the-earth/.

Nordland Website - http://www.nordland.org.uk/home
Nordland Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nordland
Glorious North Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Glorious-North-Productions

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