13 Feb 2021 - Pat O'
Blackgaze | Voice of the Unheard Records | Release date: 26 Mar 2021
On a wet and dreary winters evening, one of life’s little pleasures is chilling out with a bottle or two of ice-cold beer and passing a few hours wandering through the vast euphonic wilderness that is Bandcamp. I tend to get lost in it every couple of months, and when I do, there’s a great sense of triumph and gratification when I unearth a band whose sound instantly clicks and has something unique about them. Back in 2017, I came across Denmark’s Nordsind, and their EP Efterar.
It was an EP laden with fantastic melodies and power. I was hooked, root-and-branch, by its “blackgaze” greatness. Nordsind had something unique in their sound, something that was very distinguishable but at the same time I couldn’t quite nail it down. Either way, the vinyl was purchased and it has spent many happy days spinning its magic! So here we are in 2021 and the great news is that a full album is due for release in March in the shape of Lys (“Light” in English). To say that I’m excited about this album is an understatement, and after listening to it on repeat all week, I can honestly say that it has delivered big time.
Before the music even begins, the first thing that will catch your eye is the heart-warming artwork by Joshua Macquary. It’s a charming and spellbinding piece that compliments the album title and concept perfectly. The opening track “Lo” kicks off proceedings with some breezy, swirling guitars. Mid-tempo drums kick in, and the music begins to sculpt and shape itself. Rich guitar tremolo picking and a parallel bass line fill the air with harmony and melody. As the track opens up and changes pace, the guitars continue to swirl and they whip up a formidable wall of sound that will have you on a musical high. It’s a really strong opening track.
“Portræt I Skygger” crashes in with a stirring melody and dips its toe into that heavy “post black” sound without ever fully committing to it. It holds back just enough to whet the appetite and keep you on edge. Drums start to dominate the track and control the music until, finally, the shackles fall and you are given that powerful release you’re craving for. The double bass kicks and blast beating drums play with great force, while the guitars drive forward with that opulent and rampant “blackgaze” sound. This track really showcases the tone and resonance that Nordsind radiate. Their riffs, to me, are unmistakable.
“Når Himlen Falder, Kommer Lyset Tættere På” and “Drømmefanger” follow with all the beauty and grandeur that has already come before it. Rich emotive passages of music are interwoven with full-on atmospheric crescendos. It’s warm, honest and heavy. To add to the drama, some haunting and soul-stirring trumpet is added to the mix, creating some hair-raising moments to lose yourself in.
I remember watching these guys perform on the Vivid Festival virtual experience last year. The emotion and power in their delivery was electrifying to say the least. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Nordsind have something unique in their sound that I was unable to pinpoint at first. I now think it’s down to their ability to create soundscapes and melodies that are natural and organic. Their music flows effortlessly, beautifully simplistic and unforced, but still decisively harmonic. It’s wholly immersive.
The track that has been released as a teaser is “Mørke” and is a strange choice at first listen. A distorted and curious intro fills the air before some sultry guitars gently serenade the listener. Watery vocal synths roll over the music and form a warm, calm ambience. There is an expectation that the pace of the track will pick up and grow into a big crashing crescendo, but it doesn’t. Instead, it simply fades out into the distant hinterland. For me it seems more like a closing track of an album with its serene and restful ending, but hey, what do I know! It’s still a gorgeous track.
The last two pieces of music on the album “Midnatssol” and “Ilddåb” are Nordsind at their heaviest and fastest. Swirling blast beats with gorgeous riffs and steely bass dominate the space. Interludes of calm and tranquillity only serve as moments of reflection before getting swept back up into the throes of a blackgazed frenzy.
This is a very solid and stirring release that should put Nordsind right up there with all the current “blackgaze” favourites. This album is a tale of both joy and sadness that is told through music. If you crave the spirit, melody and measured ferocity that the “post black” / “blackgaze” genres bring, then Lys must be on your to-listen-to-list. It has all the ingredients needed to become a contender for AOTY.