Long time listeners know that I have, for the past few years, been grappling with the heavier end of the music spectrum. Black Metal, Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Post-Metal, Meta-Metal. Ok..I made the last one up but mark my words it’ll be a genre soon.
The point is that I’m fascinated by the complexity and raw emotions of these heavy genres, but I’ve yet to really internalize the art form to a degree that lets me tell you that i really GET it. I mean..I’m at the point that where I can periodically find a band that I can tell is really nailing it, even if a lot of the subtlety is lost on me. I bring that up as a way to say, metal heads, feel free to school me on this. I am actively learning and welcome your input. That said, when I DO find a band that jumps up and slaps me about with their awesomeness…I’m not going to let my lack of intimate knowledge stop me from spotlighting what i fell in love with. I say that to you guys every episode…so I’m living by my own rules.
I say all this not to get long winded about me and my personal relationship with black metal…but rather cuz i know this kind of music is a difficult one for lots of music fans and I want to preface this episode by saying, I get that…I’m with ya…but here’s an album that managed to impress me.
Case in point, Numenorean’s debut album “Home”
Depending on what critic you find, this band from Calgary is either post-black metal or maybe a blend of shoe-gaze, black metal and post-metal. I have no idea. But they jumped out at me first and foremost for their similarities to Deafheaven, one of the first black metal bands i was able to say i truly LOVED. Now, some black metal fans will say I’ve just insulted Numenorean by comparing them to what my former co-host Adam referred to as the “Coldplay of Black Metal.” Maybe. But what Deafheaven and now Numenorean do well for me is to create a sonic structure that truly surrounds you. It’s brilliantly chaotic in a way that envelopes you. It alternates between brutal and delicate. The vocals are guttural…but never comically so. If you occasionally giggle when some metal vocalist turns on their monster voice….I’m right there with you. This isn’t that. This is anguish and raw emotion so strong it is actively shedding a dude’s vocal chords.
Numenorean’s “Home” album deals with the search for comfort in a cruel and nihilistic world. It’s a typical black metal nearly suicidal theme. But…god the execution here is just fantastic.
Let’s start with the album cover. I know I know..I always wanna talk about album covers…but this time it’s kinda important. There are two album covers. The one made so media outlets can show a cover (ie the one I used for this episode’s cover art) and then there is the real album cover. The real one…is a picture of a dead child. She’s maybe 5 with just the hint of a peaceful smile on her lips. It’s haunting. And at first glance it’s just shock value graphics, but after spending some time with the album…the cover…changes. It’s not the shock of death their going for here. It’s the peace..the home she’s found by never having to face the cold world that singers Byron and Brandon Lemley shout out against. She is forever in a state of childlike innocence that the rest of us have lost and instinctively seek.
It’s still not an uplifting message…but it’s far more thought-provoking than i had assumed. And far deeper than what i expected from a band that took its name from a Silmarillion reference.
The album is just five tracks. The middle is a 3 minute instrumental interlude and the rest of the album is 4 tracks that average about 10 minutes a piece. We’re spotlighting the second movement called “Thirst”
“Thirst” from their new “Home” album was featured on Audio Bonsai’s Listening Post 16.29. Be sure to check out all the other tracks that are featured there that we just didn’t have time to make podcasts for.