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Noltem - Illusions In The Wake review




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Band: Noltem
Album: Illusions In The Wake
Release date: October 2021


01. Figment
02. Illusions In The Wake
03. Beneath The Dreaming Blue
04. Submerged
05. Ruse
06. On Shores Of Glass


It isn't necessarily "atmosphere" that makes or breaks atmospheric black metal. It's emotion.

Hold it right there, Carly Rae Jepsen! You mean to tell me that an album's emotional impact is somehow more important that the atmosphere it evokes in a genre that literally has "atmosphere" in the name? There's emotional hardcore and atmospheric black metal. There's clearly a distinction of priorities. But here I raise you a question. What's the difference? I wish I could raise you an atmospheric black metal album with no atmosphere and a lot of emotion, and one that's completely the other way around. Instead I'm going to ask you, imagine you stumble across an album. It has an artwork with nature. Trees and stuff. You read "atmospheric black metal". If some part of you cringes and wants to move on, is it because you've listened to a bunch of similar sounding stuff that lacks atmosphere, or a bunch of similar sounding stuff that lacks emotion?

Or how about this. We remember Agalloch fondly. Is it because their music sounded like a snowy Cascadian forest, or because it "felt" like a snowy Cascadian forest? Feelings, bruh! I'm not saying that atmospheric black metal should tackle depression, joy, lethargy, powerlessness, rage, mundaneness, whatever. They can, but that's not mandatory. By the time an album is done, I should have felt something. And if my interest in atmospheric black metal has waned since Agalloch's breakup, it isn't just that nothing will ever compare to them, nor that any genre is bound to stagnate with every band saturating it, but also because that one sweet spot where it isn't just atmosphere is hard to hit. Do Noltem hit it? Well, I don't see any trees on that cover art.

Don't be fooled by this being a debut album. Noltem have been around for a while. Without looking it up, it should be pretty hard to guess, but I'll give you a hint: their demo was released before Ashes Against The Grain. Everything that has been leading up to Illusions In The Wake feels like a genre's entire lifetime. A wine in a basement, slowly catching the taste of all of the genre's distilled qualities. Elegant acoustic interludes, progressive arrangements, tremolo picking, black metal that's simultaneously harsh and melodic, gorgeously layered melodies. Sure, all these things create a sense of atmosphere, but just like the surrealist colors of the mountains in the artwork, it's not really that which really wins me over. It's how all those years have made Noltem erupt unto the scene with hoarded maturity. And the kind of understanding of the sound's strengths that can only be gained by someone who lived through it.

It's no wonder that this album features guest contributions from members of Falls Of Rauros and Nechochwen. If they believe in Noltem, so do I.






Written on 27.10.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 66 users
28.10.2021 - 05:05
Opethian

Stellar release!
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28.10.2021 - 09:56
nikarg
Mod
I relate so much to what you've written. Beautiful album, for melodic/atmospheric/emotional black metal this is among the best of the year, if not the best of the year. It becomes better as it goes along, and peaks with the last two tracks. Perfect listen for autumn, gorgeous album cover by this guy.
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28.10.2021 - 12:36
Nejde
Green Devil
Well, I don't see any trees on that cover art.

Actually there are some down in the down left corner


Written by nikarg on 28.10.2021 at 09:56

Perfect listen for autumn, gorgeous album cover by this guy.


The album didn't quite stick with me on the first listen and I kinda discarded it. After reading the review I gave it another shot and this album definitely is a grower. It gets better and better with every listen.
I also want to point out your tendency to shine a light on the artists behind the album covers. Many deserve way more credit than they get. Thanks to you pointing out Gerald Brom in the Silver Talon review I discovered a great artist and now I did the same with Anthony Hurd. So cheers!
----
"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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28.10.2021 - 15:09
theFIST

I"d want to like an album with that cover, but sadly most of it is tedious
Figment is quite good, only one with enough variety to justify its length
Ruse could be a great song if it were 5 to 6 minutes rather than stretched by repetition to over 8
On Shores of Glass has good leads, but held back by the rhythm guitar
barely anything worthwhile in the 3 songs in between though
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http://metalstormmusicianscorner.bandcamp.com
Written by Warman on 07.11.2007 at 22:39
Haha, that's like saying "compose your own Metal album and upload it here, instead of writing a review of an album". :lol:
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28.10.2021 - 16:36
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Nejde on 28.10.2021 at 12:36

Actually there are some down in the down left corner

Yeah, but are those really trees?
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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28.10.2021 - 20:12
nikarg
Mod
Written by Nejde on 28.10.2021 at 12:36

I also want to point out your tendency to shine a light on the artists behind the album covers. Many deserve way more credit than they get. Thanks to you pointing out Gerald Brom in the Silver Talon review I discovered a great artist and now I did the same with Anthony Hurd. So cheers!

You're welcome! You know, I love all the Lewandowskis (check out the upcoming Intaglio album cover, it is breathtaking), the Beksińskis, the Kantors, the Burkes, etc. of this world because they have given us some stunning art but I feel there is a bit of saturation when every band uses the work of the same people over and over. I believe that the cover is important, especially for those who buy physical copies, and whenever something stands out to me, I like pointing it out.
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