Well, damn. How long as it been since I last sat down and did one of these? I feel like I almost need to reintroduce the concept. Don’t worry, that doesn’t take long. The rundown: I grab a random black metal album, drink heavily, and share my initial thoughts. No prior research, no repeat listens. It’s a fun time… except for when it goes horribly wrong (which has happened once or twice). Since it has been so long since I’ve gotten blasted on a weeknight — and I’m well on my way there now — I wanted to spin things in a slower, yet still aggressive, direction. It’s been a few months, so let’s not waste anymore time. Allow me…
I’m not gonna lie, motivation has been lacking for this piece. Mostly because I don’t actually care what any of you think about my opinions? I guess that makes a blog space, and, well, the internet, a weird place for me to hangout. Oh well. So what the fuck is up, people? Let’s see… what’s been happening in my life. I’d say I took time off to be with the family, but I’m pretty sure nobody loves me. So that’s not it. But it’s been a long, what, three months? Maryland Deathfest murdered everyone in all the right ways, I got a real haircut for the first time in 10 years (?), and the hockey universe is straight fucking with my sanity. But it’s cool I guess, I just booked my second trip to Detroit for 2016 (and for those that missed it, Round 1 from March was one of the most insane weekends of my young-yet-inevitable-still-dying life. I’ll be going back in September to run a 5k. Yes, that is correct, I’m going halfway across the country for an 18-20 minute race. Deal with it. The fucker finishes at center ice of Joe Louis Arena and I’m going to lose. my. mind. The Joe closes at the end of next year, doncha know? Anyway, backing up a step. I had to take a week or two off from drinking (heavily) and focus on the gym and running after MDF because I’m damn sure I almost ‘consumed’ myself to death a couple of times. But since Saturday is one of the biggest party days of the year here in Portsmouth, why not get in a round of practice on a Thursday night?
Ok, so what am I using to distract myself from the inevitable Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup run? (I hope I just jinxed them). First, I’m sticking with beer tonight. No, I’m not sipping on cheap-ass cans of piss water. I’m finishing up the last of my Two Roads Honeyspot Road IPAs (thank CHRIST… more on that later). But once those are gone — spoiler alert: just kicked the last one — I’m moving on to a 750ml bottle of Allagash Dubbel Ale. No, not Agalloch, you idiots. It’s a Belgian ale that clocks in at 7.0%. So I’ll be crawling (“innnn my skinnnnn”… I hate myself) long before that’s gone. But I’m not done yet. I also have a large bottle of Woodstock Inn Brewery Live Free or Die Black IPA that I bought because it has a skull on the bottle. Oh, it’s also one of my favorite breweries on Earth. Oh, and it’s also 8.3%. Covering Maine and New Hampshire breweries tonight. And I will be alternating between my pentagram chalice and drinking horn. It’s gonna get weird. There’s a picture to your right. I had to include my Baphomet statue in the distant background because of course I did.
The band I’m covering tonight is Névoa and the album is Re Un. What ‘Re Un’ actually means is a mystery and will remain a mystery long after this little piece of incoherent rambling has concluded. But this band was pitched as an atmospheric black metal project, and to be completely honest that is a sub-sub-genre that has somewhat disappointed me this year, so I thought I’d try something new to hopefully improve that standing. Furthermore, as I sit here sipping on these aggressive beers… I find myself less in the mood for the hateful or Satanic, but rather the introspective and dark. It’s the aspect of this music that sticks with me the most anyway. Anyway, I guess we can actually get into the album now?
Ya know? It’s the simplistic weirdness of that image above that kinda led to this album over any others. I mean… it’s a stick… on what exact kind of background is that? Is it floating? In water?… Space? I can’t tell… but I freaking LOVE IT. I’m finding that the music is… equally as unidentifiable. But I equally appreciate that about it. Opening track I Communion takes it’s god damn time in developing any pace. But it is dense. Very, very dense. The production leads to an absolutely massive sound that just surrounds you, which is an interesting effect for a sound this deliberate. It’s almost funeral doom-esque but still melodic. I’m hooked. I have a feeling this is going to be one of the more interesting Satan-drinking albums I’ve listened to. Meanwhile, what the hell is happening with this hockey game? Sharks up two, Pens tie with two goals in 22 seconds… only eight minutes gone in the first? UGH.
Back to this sound. It so dreary and terrifying and dark and wonderful and so many other things. Harsh barks over grainy choral vocals kicked in eventually and it makes this music feel like you’re wandering alone in a dark forest in late fall. Or you’re standing at the age of a cliff in isolation. About to jump. Just jump. Do it. We all die in the end anyway. Nevermind. I don’t know… it’s just heavy and mesmerizing. I’m completely into it. But the whole concept of this music just rises and falls in a way that messes with your head. Heavy moments of percussion and shouting halts for those of melodic, almost bluesy leads that just delicately sway you away from the chaos. Or from the edge of a cliff. (Do it!)
But there is an underlying pain to all this. It’s meant to be something you listen to with no external distractions (something I am screwing up royally… Sharks up 1). The music pulls you in a number of different directions. But you need to let it pull you in those directions in order for it to have the introspective effect it intends. I mean… track two is called II Contemplation. You get the idea. I’m going to contemplate opening the IPA while checking on the hockey score again. And a worthy distraction that was… Sharks still up 1. The intro to this second track doesn’t do much for me. But the rest of it is rather bipolar, bass-driven at that. It just… meanders around. Less effectively than the opening track, but it’s ten minutes long so I guess it’ll go somewhere? And it did! Intricate leads just pierce through the thick percussion as this track erupts (relatively speaking) in a progressive way? Sure! It takes a bit of a cosmic direction as well. Repetitive, yet quick, bass patterns subsequent an all around consistent melody that doesn’t really feel like is going anywhere specifically yet is peaceful all the same. Until things get heavier after a couple minutes again. Obviously. But at this point, it sounds like they are over-complicating things.
I skipped the last two minutes to land at III Conflict. I don’t do that often, but hockey. THIS is where these guys sound their best. It is a deep, burdening environment that just beats you down. The most straightforward song so far (out of three) but that aspect helps this album at this point. It’s four minutes of power across all levels that hits you like a tidal wave and just carries you away. And of course, we then jump to IV Closure because that just makes sense. All that energy goes away and instead we float along in a similar way to how this all began, except a little drier, a little more uneasy. The build is more deliberate and far less melodic. There were glimmers of beauty on this album, but the meat of this track is pure anguish. It straight doom metal, and the sound trudges along in pain. Some albums may resolve themselves in a sense of bliss or light… this one does not.
There is a lot to absorb from this album. It’s not the best thing you’re going to hear. But if you appreciate creativity and a willingness to push our understanding as an audience, you’ll probably be as entranced by this thing as I was. It curiously feels like an exaggerated listen because of the length of each song… but at the same time it ends before we are ready for it to. It’s simply one of those things that you need to absorb in a certain setting, where you can really focus on the density of the darkness Névoa creates with Re Un. I don’t normally go back to albums I spin for DWS just because of the nature of the beast, but this one will certain hold its place in my rotation. Right now, I really really want to find a mountain to climb and a plateau to sit on while staring at the infinite universe above me, acknowledging our pointless our existence truly is. You can do that in New Hampshire. Did you know that? Well, I can’t. Not now. Becauseeeeeee….
“Ein Bier… bitte.”