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Autumn Nostalgie – Ataraxia Award winner

Autumn Nostalgie
Ataraxia
by Andrew Graham at 29 November 2021, 10:29 PM

Slovakian Blackgaze one-man (for the most part!) project AUTUMN NOSTALGIE release their sophomore album much to the excitement of this reviewer – cards on the table, I love Blackgaze. That whole cluster of sub-genres (or even sub-sub-genres) is totally me! Anything with a melancholy feel and I am all over it. And melancholy this album has aplenty. The melodic beauty and dreamscape of ALCEST is here, as is the emotional turmoil of HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY and other examples of this kind.

I’ll be the first to admit there are a lot of similarities between Blackgaze bands, and I mean a lot. It would be too easy for a critic of this niche to simply write off everything as an ALCEST clone (it wouldn’t really be a million miles from the truth!) Quite simply, though, that is because it’s such a narrow and specific niche, no doubt one of the reasons it is so controversial insofar as it is included (or not) in the metal ‘family tree’. Certainly, for those unfamiliar with the genre, there would be little to distinguish AUTUMN NOSTALGIE from their musical spiritual founders, however a deeper reading reveals a distinct personality all its own that takes several listenings to fully appreciate.

We open with “Bevezető”, an instrumental opening that establishes a mood of deep introspection and melancholy that leads into “Alámerülés”. This is a short but sweet track that establishes the band firmly within the Blackgaze niche. Dreamy, reverb-heavy guitars and distant melodies combined with Gergely’s harsh Black Metal vocals leave the listener with no doubt as to what to expect.

“Memento Vivere” displays a stop-and-start quality that is visible throughout the album. Harsher sections abruptly cease to make space for more overtly Shoegazey interludes. Also front and centre is the vocals, differing significantly from other bands of this style which tend to push shrieked vocals way back into the distance. Such ethereal screams are not present here, however, with vocals places front and centre in stark contrast to the haunting beauty of the guitar melodies, many of which are pushed far into the distance. The overall effect is very pleasing, very much suggesting the faint and fleeting nature of memory or the intangibly intangible nature of fantasy. These are the kinds of lofty and dark ideas that Blackgaze is expert in exploring.

“The Abyss Of Realization” is a pure Shoegaze track, that would be instantly familiar and comfortable to fans of the classic acts (see SLOWDIVE or MY BLOODY VALENTINE). However, it does not lose any heaviness as a result, partially due to the vocals but also the overall tone and mood is far from light. This music has gravity that other styles simply do not have, no matter how brutal the vocals or how downtuned the guitars. “The Dark Night Of The Soul” is an instrumental interlude that functions as a kind of prelude to the album’s title track. There is plenty of atmosphere and brooding gloom on display that sets the tone for the final section of the record. “Ataraxia” is a Blackgaze paradise, showcasing the very best this band has to offer (even a dash of clean vocals!) Surfing the choppy waves of emotions, from troughs of despair to peaks of hopefulness, the listener is taken on a veritable and tumultuous ride. Album closer “Shadow Of Summer Trees”, through title alone if nothing else, evokes a vague sense of hope and affirmation after the exploration and introspection of the previous two tracks. We end on a note of intense self-awareness and hopefulness as the track fades into silence.

As I confessed early in this review, I love Blackgaze. So, there is no small bit of bias when I say I love this album. I truly believe that there is real talent and genius here. There is a depth and understanding of real, human emotions that transcends much of the angry, angst-ridden music that comprises much Heavy Metal (which, I wish to make clear, I also love!) I look forward to AUTUMN NOSTALGIE’S next record with great anticipation. Big things may be expected of this band for those who revel in the melancholy.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Bevezető
2. Alámerülés
3. Memento Vivere
4. The Abyss Of Realization
5. The Dark Night Of The Soul
6. Ataraxia
7. Shadows Of Summer Trees
Lineup:
Gergely Almásy – Vocals, guitars, bass
József Nagy – Drums
Record Label: Northern Silence Productions
     


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Edited 09 December 2022
 

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