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Nubivagant - The Wheel And The Universe

The Wheel And The Universe
by Matt Bozenda at 25 July 2022, 5:15 PM

There’s a lot of wisdom in doing something that worked in the past. It isn’t always easy to do, of course, but every now and then we’re lucky enough to have some errant Prometheus find fire from long ago and rekindle it. In all Metaldom, the topic of nostalgia has always been a hotly contested one; large swathes of metalheads call themselves fans of revivalist acts like STEEL PANTHER and SABATON, while a vocal cross-section of the community puts all such music down for reasons ranging from irrelevance to downright damage.

Well obviously, there’s also a lot to be said for bands and musicians who are able to expand on an idea that succeeded. About elbow deep in the sub-genre barrel is where you’ll find Atmospheric Black Metal, whose own success stories are critically intermingled with its failures, but reasonable metalheads will agree that when done well, ABM can be very good music. One such valid and modern act would have to be NUBIVAGANT, a one-man band by OMEGA, another face for the prolific TUSCAN GIONATA POTENTI.

The listener may find NUBIVAGANT’s second album, “The Wheel And The Universe”, to be simplistic or perhaps pedestrian, even to those of us with no inclinations for playing. You could swear you’ve heard this stuff before; you may tell yourself, especially if you’ve gotten into the Atmospheric work of, let’s say, JUSTIN K BROADRICK, but the element which sets this effort apart from the others is the vocals; rather than the characteristic dour raspy screaming, the lyrics are delivered cleanly, and man alive do they soar. Right from the gate in track one, “Into Eternal Night”, the listener is treated to lofty singing and hammering drums for most of the song.

That formula works again on tracks like “Clothed With The Sun”, even while it makes use of more active drums and a somewhat more orthodox structural approach starting from the bridge. The closer, “The Great White Throne”, goes a step further by including a majorly dark synth playing a see-saw rhythm for a portion of the middle.

An absence of raw aggression is evident on tracks like “The Mask And The Devil”, but rather than overrun or trample, the strategy of this song seems to be to hypnotize and disarm. The same can be said for the following track, “The Book Of The Earth”, but the latter achieves its aim through guitar work, where the former gets it done with incredible vocal melodies. “Between The Moon And The Stars” makes use of vocal layering to great effect while adding an air of mystique.

Overall, for half a dozen tracks weighing in at over forty-two minutes altogether, the average metal listener could do much worse. Ultimately, however, “The Wheel And The Universe” yields no exceptional points. The guitars (no bass) are okay, but use a minimum of notes. The drums do some decent wandering, and the vocals are exceptional, but it’s nothing we’ve not gotten before. Clean vocals are an enigma in the genre, that’s true, but they’re not unheard of.

Nevertheless, NUBIVAGANT does not fall flat in this endeavor. In the realm of Atmospheric Black Metal, “The Wheel And The Universe” is a fine if unassuming addition to the catalog. Fans of the genre should find it acceptable, and even the occasional dabbler could find something they like about it. But if ‘fine’ and ‘acceptable’ are the benchmark for album two, should there be much better to expect for the third?

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Into Eternal Night
2. The Mask And The Devil
3. The Book Of The Earth
4. Clothed With The Sun
5. Between The Moon And The Stars
6. The Great White Throne
Omega - all instruments
Record Label: Amor Fati Productions


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