Feeling a bit late to the party while digging this up from of my backlog. But better late than never, because this new mezmerizing album by Nordicwinter, really is for cold winter days and nights walking under a bleak sky at the shore of a small lake on one side and a frozen snowless wood on the other side. And if you walk there at night, the music certainly will give you a sense of belonging as you look up at the sparkling starry sky out there beyond the atmosphere.
Even filled with much desperation, anxiety, separation from the world, loneliness, and sadness through the lyrics, Nordicwinter makes Black Metal-related music that is highly contemplative and introspective. It is in fact very beautiful at times, even more so when the artist fares deeper into atmospheric metal´s soundscapes as he widens and develops the layers in the music. But one sound is unmistakable - the way evilair (the master and mind behind Nordicwinter) has tuned the distorted guitars gives you a sense of ethereal transparency as it surrounds the equally unmistakable screaming and desperate vocals that try to push their agony through the layers.
This release from Nordicwinter is the third in two years since the release of the mighty Sorrow in March 2021 following it with Le dernier adieu October of last year. Each release contains amazing Atmospheric Black Metal with mournful lyrics to drift along. The sound of the guitars as mentioned and the vocals are easily recognizable, similar each time, but quite far from becoming tedious even with long songs. And that is because of the third hallmark of the songwriting: There is always an appealing and alluring melody that penetrates the soundscape and lifts each song often with yearning guitars displaying the burning desire to belong that seeps through the lyrics.
The first song ”Hallowed Darkness” has Nordicwinter´s trademarks of desperate beauty right from the start as a moderate strumming clear guitar introduces the song and is accompanied by drums to pave the way for the sound of the transparent distorted guitar sonics laying themselves above the clear guitar and the desperate vocals embedded deep in the flowing music. Out of this arises a tremolo guitar to establish the melodic theme. A theme that bursts with yearning, reflection, and introspection. To use melody this way in the often cold distorted sonics makes the music poetic. With complex layers and an engaging melody soaring, ebbing and flowing, Nordicwinter in a way embraces you and invites you into his world and thoughts without you sharing the desperation that lies behind the music. You just feel empathy. It is so beautifully well done.
The music floats along and it simmers down with thunder accompanying a meditative clean guitar steering onto a wide cold plain with synths and piano reflecting the beauty of the previous scenario. The transparent distorted guitars come back and the tremolo guitar soars over the blast beats and layers of guitars wherein the vocals are embedded. It ends with thunder claps accompanying a thoughtful piano.
”This sadness enshrines me / Never lets me see the light / In darkness I shall remain” is a line from the second song, ”Into Nothingness” where evilair, throughout the song, uses a sometimes high pitched guitar to give depth to such thoughts. The vocals float in and out of the sonics to share the desperation. It is fascinating how the melodic guitar holds back as the rhythm gets faster, pushing forward even with blast beats. A high-pitched solo guitar swirls in with a melody before a tremolo guitar is back to end the song.
The third instrumental piece comes out as a meditation for piano with tidal synths moving back and forth as it gives meaning to the title ”Forever in Memories”.
The two next songs are deeply connected to each other as the end of the title song ”Beneath The Fleeting Light” is accompanied by distant thunder and a piano sounds like a church bell. This is also the beginning of the next song ”Devoid of Life”. The first of these songs might be the most varied on the album as it often shifts pace as the song glides forward, never fast paced, just holding the atmospheric flag high. Subtle changes are made to great effect as it imitates loneliness when the sonic fades away just to be taken over by a piano playing in tune with thunder and church bell, somehow giving meaning to the earlier lyrics ” Within the veil of sadness / The solitude entombs me / Beneath the fleeting light / Eyes now blind to destiny”.
As mentioned, the song shifts imperceptibly into ”Devoid of Life” and when the piano comes back after the bells have tolled, the distorted sonics swirl slowly around for a while held up by steady drums. The despairing screams deep within the soundscape, the tremolo guitar, and blastdrums - all of that steer the song onwards. The unique thing here is that even with blast drums, the music leaves the impression of a vast and unrushed atmospheric nature. The blast beats gently push the atmospheric parts forwards while the guitar gives a yearning effect until it all sinks down to a piano tune that is lifted by synths and a lone guitar steers the song versatile drumming. ”Memories, devoid of life / The echoes of whispers fade / Beneath the dimming light / A glimpse of her face now veiled”.
A short piano piece with the telling title, ”Solemn Repose”, closes the album as we walk along the lake and the wood onto a frosted clearing while day turns into night and the sky shows a few stars already. You do not leave this music untouched whether you are at that lake or wrapped up in the warmth of your cozy sofa.