And from the darkness came a warrior, a Caledonian like Viking intent on conquering the senses and plundering the imagination, taking them to a better place. In his hands is a weapon of sound, an album forged of industrial metal and glazed in alternative/gothic metal destined to fill the void left by past protagonists. He is Northmaan and his fists offer a self-titled incitement to vanquish that emptiness.
Where solo artist Northmaan actually comes from in the North of the UK we cannot say but he has, in his own words…”stood by the wayside and watched a beloved alternative industry, my industry become a commercial embarrassment!” So he started writing and recording, aligning the sounds he loved with his own creativity. It is a proposition openly embracing classic industrial, gothic and doom metal sounds but one with its own voracious identity and barbarous discontent upon the world and everything from religion, and politics to capitalism. It has an inescapable nostalgia to it, at times burrowing under the skin like a fusion of Fear Factory and Killing Joke with a rich Type O Negative toxicity but one ferociously casting its own individuality.
Recorded, produced and mixed by Jayce Lewis (Fear Factory, Gary Numan, Ascension of The Watchers, Acid Reign), Northmaan’s album immediately invaded with opener Self Destruct, tunnelling through the senses with rapacious riffs as rhythms picked their spot. Just as quickly, Northmaan’s snarling tones descend in word and force, the song burrowing deep with every passing second as diversity and adventure fuel every aspect and rhythms intensify their manipulative incitement.
It is a striking start easily igniting an eager appetite which the following Rage Trigger further enslaved. As riffs rub hungrily on the senses, rhythms dance on their wounds, again the release earning swift subservience as too the vocal prowess and sonic voracity of Northmaan. There is a great Society 1 scent to the track and its nagging attributes, further revealing electronic and progressive dexterity as the minutes and its body evolves.
Persevere is next up and from tenebrific mists rises with portentous breath and muscular intensity. Quickly it is a tower of carnal temptation, guitars a predatory harassment as rhythms again, even with control, hit deep. A Celtic air subsequently coats vocals and sound around that predacious core, calling on the imagination as the body succumbed to aural manipulation. As in its predecessors, that fusion of styles creates a fresh and individual protagonist, successor Torture First equally unique in character and attack. Its stroll is more a stalking than invitation with the same result, an easily nurtured greed for the song’s dystopian trespass and industrial contagion.
The oppressive state of the song continues in Dying Star and soon consumed in the track’s specific animus of sound and unrest. From vocals to sound it is a severely irritable consumption but bound in a melodic beauty which is its own deceitful corruption. The song is superb, a ravening of creativity and animosity forged with compelling imagination and drama taking favourite track honours if only just from its companions in this glorious encounter.
Closing track is Tolerate, its own addictive torchbearer of temptation and foreshadowing within a web of compelling enterprise and provocation. With scything rhythms and ravenous riffs aligned to virulent contagion and mercurial intensity, the track is a final irresistible moment in the release.
Unique yet familiar, invasive but inspiriting, the album is one of the year’s major highlights so far and yes Northmaan is masterfully filling a gap in metal and our passions.
The Northmaan album is released March 26th via Devfire Entertainment available through https://orcd.co/qr8qgmk.
Pete RingMaster 28/03/2021
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