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Nordicwinter – Sorrow Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 06 May 2021, 2:53 PM

NORDICWINTER is a depressive/atmospheric black metal band from Canada. They formed in 2006; their latest album "Sorrow" is their fourth full length album. Actually, I shouldn't use "their" because it is a one man project from Evillair. I'm going to start with the most important part: I enjoy the hell out of this album. It ticks off all the boxes for what I look for among the best of atmo and depressive music. I also love doom and this album definitely has that slow, down trodden feel of the most sorrowful of doom.

When it comes to anything that is both atmo and blackened, I am more concerned with overall feel and scope than actual riffs and conventional song structure. "Sorrow" nails this down as well; it is an emotional album of huge depth. The guitars on "Sorrow" are definitely not flashy or built upon showmanship. It is there to be a part of the bigger picture and provide a huge blanket of heaviness. It certainly excels at those desirable elements.

The vocals find that sweet spot between having lots of force and being one with the instruments. In this style, many bands have the vocals too up front or far away in the production mix—-this album nails it right on the dime with vocal placement. The drums are programmed and that is okay because it isn't a drum focused album—-which is good because with atmospheric music I dont need a barrage of drums. With that being said, the performance is well done and serves purpose.

The opening track, "Somber Winds of Despair (Part I)”  starts with keys and clean guitar before a scream pierces the cold wall of sound and the distortion kicks in. This is a musical landscape that is oppressive yet grandiose. The subtleties of the music just swarm together, giving an odd sort of warmth to this otherwise bleak musical journey. The guitars differentiate just enough to help push the song along, the notes grasping the other elements in icy tendrils. The middle part is beautiful depressed with its lush keys, both clean and symphonic.

"In This Darkness" hits harder, an almost violent reaction in the song's opening moments. The drums roll about among the blackened screams and the bass is an earthquake. Just as the chaos reaches its peak around the four minute mark, an organic and flowing melodic passage hits before it comes together once again as blackened fury. The last minute and a half has the guitars hitting hard as they fade out into more clean keys. Stunning.

The second part of "Somber Winds of Despair" is the culmination of the albums overall progression and one of the more melodic tracks.  The vocals make the song seem like its expanding outward, growing and thriving as more and more layers are added.  From the four minute mark all the way to the end, the song becomes the musical equivalent of an artist painting the richest landscape imaginable. Light, clean keys sprinkle over the sounds of thunder that the guitars grab a hold of the sky and pull it down, all the things inside that formed gray skies just dropping upon the land below in a pretty but moody display of natural power.

NORDICWINTER's "Sorrow" is how something so sad and alone can also represent beauty and the silver lining inside sorrow. Don't sleep on this example of depressive atmo black metal done right.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Somber Winds of Despair (Part I)
2. Sullen Echoes
3. In This Darkness…
4. This Mournful Dirge
5. Dying Winters
6. Somber Winds of Despair (Part II)
7. Enshrined by Solitude
Evillair – Everything
Record Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records


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