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Nordicwinter - Desolation

by Chris Hawkins at 15 February 2021, 2:34 PM

Call me jaded, but when I read a band bio that drops multiple names of bands as points of reference particularly when that list is composed of über elite names.  Such was obviously the case with NORDICWINTER as the bio stated that the album is recommended for fans of XASTHUR, FORGOTTEN TOMB, and SHINING, among others.  That certainly is quite the company to keep and of course, expectations are thus set high.  NORDICWINTER is a one-man project aimed at evoking the sorrow within, embracing the suffering of this existence.  Hailing from frigid Quebec must aid in the atmosphere for after a thirteen year hiatus, NORDICWINTER released two full lengths this past year including “Desolation,” the subject of this review.  Committed to imbibing the music with the utmost objectivity, I thus resign to block the part of my brain that keeps issuing signals flashing “XASTHUR,” “FORGOTTEN TOMB,” and “SHINING,” three of my favorite bands.

Forest of Despair” opens the album on a somber note.  An extremely melancholic though melodic beginning almost suggests MY DYING BRIDE or even classic ANATHEMA.  It is a grandiose beginning, one that sets the table for momentous revelations.  Alternating between that distinct British Doom feel and a more mid-paced Black Metal section, a powerful momentum is established, one that ensures the eight-minute track becomes fully ingrained in the listening experience, absorbing one into that black, cold void.

The instrumentation employed aids in the immersion.  From the resonant cleans to powerful minor chords soaked in distortion, the variety of guitar tracks is an essential component.  With such a plethora of guitar sounds, the magic happens when they are stacked on top of each chord for as such, the sound only becomes bigger, exponentially so on a grander scale.  As a one-man project, that unifying vision ties everything together as each sound becomes purposeful.

It is with the second track, “A Shadow’s Veil,” that the album really gets going.  The emotion underlying the atmosphere is diverse from a feeling of longing to desperation and ultimate absolution.  Perhaps the album’s title, “Desolation,” is a most fitting one for it would be difficult to offer another example of perfectly capturing that persisting insomnia of grief and sorrow, that frantic panic of loss that stabs at the heart more violently as time goes on.  Time does not heal all wounds but rather, they seem to fester with a lingering infection that does not abate.  “In Solitude,” the third track, extends this trip elaborating on an already vivid rendering of the all-too-real feeling of being utterly alone.

The detractors who say that listening to “depressive music” is just wallowing in one’s grief completely miss the point of artistic catharsis.  By channeling those feelings, they are dealt with head on, processed by the brain’s indelible knack for separating the experience from the memory.  It may be like picking at a scab for some, but for others, it is as rewarding as intensive physical therapy following injury.  I think over the course of this review that I have accounted for my initial trepidation.  Yes, NORDICWINTER has impressed me and the comparisons were indeed spot-on; however, they do not account for the unique color of NORDICWINTER’s music.  There are deep Black Metal roots here, but this album transcends a mere genre label as it provides a thoroughly absorbing experience, an epic album that feels like a journey across the expanse of human emotion.

Songwriting:  8
Originality:  8
Memorability:  8
Production:  8

4 Star Rating

1. Forest of Despair
2. A Shadow’s Veil
3. In Solitude
4. Fall to Ruin
5. All That Remains
6. Tomb of Silence
7. Last Rites
Evillair – Everything
Record Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records


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