There is a raw elegance to physical and emotional desolation, and primitive beauty in stark ravenous climates and landscapes. The same can be said of The Child Must Die, the new album from Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus which involves all across seven cold and uncompromisingly atmospheric soundscapes. The band’s previous releases have already explored similar ravenous climes, but as good as they were they all dramatically pale up against the Philadelphia duo’s new offering.
Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus first unleashed their sonic corruption in 2012, the band originally a trio going on to release a self-titled demo that first year and the attention sparking debut album Synkkä Tuuli in 2013. Personnel exits left original guitarist Mika Mage the band’s sole member and the creator of the Väinämöinen EP which immersed further into cold and barren yet inciting aural scenery inspired by his Finnish heritage and the Scandinavian black metal scene. Now with vocalist Joel Robert Thompson (Omelas) alongside Mage (Lawrence’s Creation), Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus return to those biting cold, vast wastelands with The Child Must Die but also with a new power and invention which pushes a promising project into a force coming of age in the extreme metal scene.
Based on The Kalevala, a 19th-century Finnish piece of poetry and with its lyrics adapted directly from the national epic by Mage and Thompson, The Child Must Die immediately submerges the senses with its opener in a pestilential, plague like swarm of riffs bound in alluring grooves. Wondrous Sampo quickly and persistently expands that initial rush; band and album unveiling a far more mature and dynamic weave of textures and sonic flavours than seen from them before. From composing and sound to technical expression and production, the release is an immense step up from, as mentioned, the bands previously impressing propositions. It still retains the raw and caustic quality of those early songs but instead of polishing them as many would have done, simply weaves them into a magnetic tapestry of enchanting and melancholic beauty. Guest keys from Lawrence Wallace virtually swim across the senses, every melodic wave offering a balm but equally an enhancement to the infertile and forbidding landscape engulfing the imagination and coloured ravenously by the raw throat scarring squalls of Thompson.
It is a fascinating start to the album quickly surpassed by its title track. An opening caress of guitar melody within a gentle kiss of keys is bewitching but finds itself soon overwhelmed by a torrent of riffs led by the vicious beats of guest drummer Jeff Willet. Like a consuming cloud with scourge like intent, the corrosive weight and intensity of the song sweeps all before it, but keeping hope a ripe possibility keys and melodies ignite the surrounding shadows simultaneously. It is a hellacious tempest when bearing its soul, but masterfully top and tailed by the warm kiss which began it all.
Let Them Perish comes next, its initial presence and nature a predatory stalking of ears which is almost sizing up the terrain before uncaging another frost encrusted, grimly lit and harrowing swamp of emotion and sound. The track epitomises the new stature and depth of the Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus invention, every unholy and rabid persecution of the senses comes with layers of contradictory but complementing radiance and melodic imagination. This lifts the fiercest atmospheres and darkest ambiences, never derailing their toxic rabidity but providing pocket oases to cling to in the face of the piercing sonic storms.
Feast Of the North Farm is amongst the most ruinous and frigid proposals of sound and emotive scenery on the album but its sonic swing and frosty, but inviting grooves spiced with symphonic seeded luminance, gives it an invitation impossible to resist whilst Amidst the Waves creeps into an even more hostile and erosive climate with the tones of Thompson bordering on insidious at times, the music too. It all leads to a resonating melodic flirtation of a finale though and another compelling incitement within The Child Must Die.
The crushing atmosphere and suffocating weight of Väinämöinen surrounds the listener next but again keys and the persistently impressive enterprise and craft of Mage’s imagination radiates a celestial heat and resolve onto the dead terrain. It enthrals from start to finish, the bass standing like Canute against bitter waves just one thrilling twist in the unrelenting sonic and intensive deluge; just a shame the tracks is closed with a fade-out.
Completed by the spellbinding instrumental The Night She Died, Mage simply owning ears and thoughts with his nimble creative fingers, The Child Must Die is an inescapable declaration that Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus is inventively and imaginatively ready to join the frontline of ambient fuelled black metal, and give a great many current exponents a real run for their money. We will say it again; Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus has come of creative age and in turn given metal a new cold feast to devour with The Child Must Die.
The Child Must Die is available now via Infernal Kommando Records digitally and on CD @ https://nihilistinenbarbaarisuus.bandcamp.com/album/the-child-must-die