The powerful debut album of the Australian band Somnium Nox ushers the listener into another world, operating at a depth that seems to affect the subconscious mind like a form of hypnosis, as well as frequently pushing the pulse of the blood to racing levels. It’s an immersive, emotionally compelling experience, by turns spellbinding and abrasive… and in the opening minutes, it includes the haunting tones of a didgeridoo.
“Haunting” may be the single best word to describe the atmospheric black metal of Somnium Nox, as it does seem to emanate from a shadow realm, giving voice to primordial powers and wandering spirits that may be submerged but haven’t disappeared.
The album consists of three long tracks that connect to each other seamlessly, and today we have the premiere of the second one — “The Alnwick Apotheosis” — in advance of the album’s May 15 release by Transcending Obscurity Records.
This middle track on the album continually builds and releases tension, and as it does so it displays the band’s mastery as spellcasters, as well as the astute ways in which they employ dynamic changes to maintain a tight hold on the listener’s increasingly enthralled attention.
There’s something ominous, gloomy, and threatening in the reverberating guitar notes and ghostly ambience at the beginning of the song, and the peril becomes manifest with the eruption of grim tremolo riffing, surging bass notes, and banshee shrieking, matched against a contrasting funereal drum rhythm. As the drums begin to tumble, the riffs magnify in power, backed by spectral keyboard music. And the tension mounts even further as the drum pattern accelerates to a gallop.
When the band release that mounting tension, replacing the driving propulsion with slow, strummed chords, they’re setting the stage for a melody that’s somber and sorrowful — but they then vault into a violent frenzy of blasting percussion and hailstorm riffing, with a dramatic, rippling guitar melody surfacing within that rush of power.
When that latest tension-ratcheting convulsion spends itself, replaced by a despondent guitar melody and the dramatic crash of chords and drums, the vocals turn to searing, ghostly gasps that shiver the skin. In the final minute, the keyboard-driven music takes on a pronounced astral cast, becoming even more chilling and mystical, yet mesmerizing.
It’s the kind of song that stays with you, in unsettling ways, long after it ends.
Terra Inanis was mastered by Colin Marston and features artwork by Beth Taylor, with layout designed by the band’s vocalist Ashahalasin. The band explain: “We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands. We pay respect to their Elders – past, present and emerging”.
Transcending Obscurity is releasing Terra Inanis in a variety of formats and in bundles with other merch. This will be the label’s first vinyl release, and the vinyl edition will be manufactured and shipped from the U.S. For further details and to pre-order, visit this location:
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