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Noumena - Death Walks With Me Award winner

Noumena
Death Walks With Me
by Daniel Fox at 19 September 2013, 5:55 PM

It's a world renowned fact that Finland produced some of, or arguably, the best melodic death metal on the planet, strongly influenced by the 'Gothenburg sound' immortalised by the many Swedish giants. Fair enough that after a long time listening to the same kind of music over and over, it all starts to sound the same. A fresh breath of air, then, is Finland's NOUMENA. They conduct a unique brand of Melodic Death Metal, interwoven with doom and progressive elements; I don't find myself able to sound this about extreme metal bands, but, quite simply, their music is elegant. Is it still heavy? Quite. Is it still technical? Definitely. Is it still Metal? Absolutely.

Their latest release, “Death Walks with Me”, is joined with a new, female vocalist in Suvi Uura, who adds a unique element to the band's sound, who not only partakes in deathly growling duties, but is more so recognised for her enchanting and melancholic clean voice. The first track, “Handful of Dust”, brings with it the classic Gothenburg Metal sound: melodic, yet heavy; catchy, yet indisputably metal. The only thing that faults this song, for me, is that Uura's voice is too low in the mix; it makes her voice sound small and unassuming; on the other hand, it adds an air of melancholy that can't be ignored. “Play Dead” contains some of my favourite moments of Haapanen's growls on the record; his vocal presence dominates the song, which is otherwise simplistic and almost commercial sounding in terms of riffage. Neither are a bad thing on their own, but together, I'm not so sure they create my favourite song on the record. Speaking of which, the next track, “Sleep”, most definitely takes this spot; I hear OPETH, I hear AMORPHIS, I hear ARCH ENEMY, and doom, folk, and death. Most of all, I hear an ever present atmosphere of melancholy and emotion. The acoustic passages, catchy leads, and Uura's voice back at the front of the mix creates what I must call a perfect song. “Death Walks with Me” is a return to some familiar and safe (for the wider audience) ground, with some crushing, fast and deadly riffs; hell, I do believe I even hear some black creeping in. Uura even sounds like a succubus amongst this hellish sound scape. “Let it Run Red” shows some homage to old ARCH ENEMY, from their Johan days, and contains my absolute favourite solo on the record. The next track, “Storm”, sounds like something straight from an AMORPHIS album, and Haapanen and Uura make an effective, yet unorthodox, duet; easily another favourite of mine. “Mysteries of Motion” is another classically-Gothenburg track, with very memorable riffs, and yet another blistering solo. “Nothing” makes a refreshing (is that even the right word?) return to their expertly crafted melancholic atmospherics from earlier; I think it is important to point out that I am not yet feeling bored, or noticing any repetitiveness within the album; truly a good sign for a melodic death metal record. “Only the Silent” once again breaks any notion of trend by opting for a fast and furious approach, containing riffs worthy of neck snapping headbanging; for me, this song is second only to sleep. “Season of Suffocation” is a truly beautiful, yet also emotionally depressing and exudes doom and gloom; drastically slowed down riffs and wailing minor scale leads apply that effect masterfully. It is also by far the longest track on the album, capping out at just over eight minutes, yet stops, starts, twists and turns enough to keep me listening, drowning in the sound scape. The album ends with “Sundown”, a truly unique track for NOUMENA because it features almost solely melodious odes from Suvi and is nearly a completely acoustic track. What the band has accomplished with this song, has not just ended an album, but ended a musical journey.

For some metal veterans, it may be easy to gloss over most Melodic Death Metal, but when music like that crafted by NOUMENA exists, one cannot help but to acknowledge that amongst the cracks caused by sundering riffs and slicing leads, there exists elegant gems, in a sonic world of their own.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Handful of Dust
2. Play Dead
3. Sleep
4. Death Walks with Me
5. Let It Run Red
6. The Storm
7. Mysteries of Motion
8. Nothing
9. Only the Silent
10. Season of Suffocation
11. Sundown
Lineup:
Antti Haapanen – Vocals
Suvi Uura – Vocals
Ville Lamminaho – Guitars
Hannu Savolainen – Bass
Tuuka Tuomela – Guitars
Ilkka Unnbom - Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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