04 May 2021 - Knut
| Hypnotic Dirge Records | Release date: 26 Mar 2021
When Depressive Black Metal becomes inspirational
This is an impressively crafted atmospheric black metal album by the Canadian Nordicwinter. It is the third installation of a trilogy that started with Requiemin April last year, was followed by Desolation in June the same year and this, Sorrowin March this year. Honestly, it might not be fair only to focus on the last album in the trilogy as they all are connected.
Through preparing this review, I am fortunate to have become better acquainted the works of the multitalented musician behind this one-person band, Yves Allaire. He releases albums using the pseudonym evillair. He used this pseudonym when he released the 2007 album Threnody under Nordicwinter´s band name. Over the next years he used this pseudonym on albums with different metal styles, black, doom and death metal and under other band names. Now it seems that depressive atmospheric black metal releases are reserved for Nordicwinter. 13 years after the Threnody release, he fittingly began to use the band name Nordicwinter again for the next three releases. At length, he caught the attention of Hypnotic Dirge Records, who re-released and continues to release his music.
The sound on this record finds its roots in early Norwegian black metal, but the artist has developed it into his own characteristic style. The two previous releases in this trilogy are more classic black metal than this last one - these albums the use of blast beats is more prominent, and make a more intense listening. Although the albums have long tracks, same instruments, this last one in the trilogy is a more reflective album clearly based on one catching melody who flows through the album and is expressed in different ways. And this melody will stay with you for some time. Had this been a classical work, it would probably be titled “Variations on a theme by …”
The album is framed by two tracks, ”Somber Winds of Despair part I and II”. Two very powerful and engaging tracks. The first one starts out with clean guitar and synths, before the listener is lifted into the atmospheric black metal soundscapes. The heavily saturated guitars together with the rhythm section, the synths and the desperate, screaming vocals lead us to the melody that will follow us through the album’s major themes – regret, remorse, and longing. It is as if the music was inspired by consolation after an anxiety attack, reflecting on the darkness inside you - reflecting on what keeps you sane.
The two parts share a similar structure, in which the first section of each track evokes strong, heavy winds blowing through the despair of the music until it quiets down into a section where only a sole piano is playing in a mellow, thoughtful way, followed by the third section of the track, in which the guitars are reunited with the synths and the screams. In Part I the guitars drive the melody in full force, while in Part II a solo guitar plays the haunting theme of the album, soaring over the dense atmospheric black metal.
The tracks in between these two main parts varies in the use of the instrument the artist has at his disposal. Using both acoustic and electric guitars, filling with the piano and synths, in different modes and the bass and drums in slow and fast rhythm, the music takes us on a musical journey through the theme that opens and closes the album. On track two, ”Sullen echoes”, the sadly strummed acoustic guitar is joined out of nowhere by by synths in low notes, it sounds as if a big orchestra joins in. The track slowly rises up towards the theme of the album and is soon met by the heavy guitars and desperate vocals. This track flows slower for some time, builds up with blasting drums before it ends as quickly as it began. Then, suddenly, follows ”In This Darkness…”. Suddenly because it begins without introduction and is faster than the other tracks. It slows down into a contemplative section using synths in choir mode, piano and acoustic guitar before it picks up speed again and leads us to the mellow piano outro.
The next track, ”The Mournful Dirge” starts with thunder setting the darkness of the track, followed by clean guitar played over the melancholic synths. It might be more contemplative than the others, implying all the despair, loneliness and sorrow this album is built on. It is followed by ”Dying Winters”,which might be the most intense track on the album as the melody here is played with more arpeggio style than the other tracks and accompanied by the blasting drums.
Following ”Somber Winds part II”, ”Enshrined by Solitude” quietly closes the album, much in the same way as the previous albums end in this trilogy. There are no heavy guitars, only acoustic guitar, piano, synths in choir mode accompanied by thunder and lightning to underline the dark loneliness - the solitude that embraces this impressive album.
This album needs to grow on you and when it does, you will discover that there is an almost unfathomable depth in the music. Together the three albums are a real tour de force. The genre this album is classified in is depressive black metal or even depressive suicidal black metal, but this is an album that defies those genres, it is an album to be inspired by, to come back to again and again and become emotionally lifted by.