Soli Contro il Mondo (“alone standing against the world”) is the second album by the black metal band Nova from Veneto, Italy. It was preceded by a debut full-length in 2014 named Il ritorno (“the return”). The new album will be released on December 18 by ATMF, but we are privileged to bring you a full stream of the album today.
I first encountered music from Soli Contro il Mondo in mid-November, when two tracks from the album were then available for listening on Bandcamp — the opener “Guerra per il Firmamento” and “Contro il Drago e il Toro“. I was thoroughly captivated by both of them. In both, the drumwork is riveting, the vocals are inflamed by raw passion, and the sweeping, panoramic riffs create a sense of sublime melancholy grandeur.
“Guerra per il Firmamento” very effectively interweaves and elaborates upon a folk-like melody in the midst of powerful storms of black metal ferocity. “Contro il Drago e il Toro” is more ripping and rocking, but no less dramatic, majestic, or sorrowing in its atmosphere. I thought both tracks were tremendously good — and said so here.
Having now heard all nine of the album tracks, I’m ready to proclaim it one of this nearly-expired year’s best and most exciting black metal albums.
The production quality delivers the music with visceral power and striking clarity, and that’s part — but only part — of why the music is so hugely compelling. The songwriting and performances are also tremendously good, and the overall impact of the album is electrifying and explosive.
The characteristics of the two songs I first encountered can be found again in the other seven tracks. Some of the tracks are more hard-rocking than others. “Crolla L’Empireo“, for example, is anchored by enormously compelling bass and drum rhythms and killer riffing. It’s bleak and vicious but irresistibly body-moving, and the writhing, ripping guitar lead delivers a razor-sharp melodic hook.
Other tracks are more ravaging and glorious, more sweeping and soaring, creating feelings of infernal magnificence and heart-breaking sorrow. Folk melodies (usually performed on a flute-like instrument) creep into some of the songs as one of many accents that help keep the listener bolted in place from the album’s beginning to its end.
And the band also repeatedly prove themselves capable of launching onslaughts of frenzied, pulse-pounding, breath-taking destructiveness, with all of these obviously very talented musicians pulling out the stops and attacking like a firestorm.
As in the first two tracks that appeared last month, the vocals are another great strength of all the tracks. A mix of voracious roaring, cauterizing howls, and wrenching cries, they burn with conviction and unbridled passion, and they suit the equally unbridled intensity of the music perfectly.
There aren’t many moments in the album when you can sit back, close your eyes, and become meditative. Its rushing power is almost unrelenting. Yet there is no sense of sameness about the songs that might risk dulling the senses. The momentum changes; the moods change as well; and every song is so emotionally evocative that losing interest simply isn’t a risk. In my humble opinion, every song here is an obsidian gem.
And so, at a time of the year when many of us are making and reading year-end lists, reflecting on the metal that has flooded through us over the least last 12 months, we have been given an album which proves that the best music of the year isn’t all behind us — this one lies ahead, before the year breathes its last gasps. Don’t miss it.